OPINION: Overbooking flights creates passenger havoc
IT'S stressful enough catching an airplane anywhere.
Traffic jams to the airport, making sure you haven't packed too much luggage and ensuring you are there at least an hour before are a big enough hassle.
But when you finally make it to the checkout desk and find there is no seat for you, not because you did anything wrong, but because the airline has oversold the flight, then something is wrong.
This happened to my girlfriend's daughter over the weekend when we drove the nearly two hours to get to the Gold Coast only to find she had lost whatever seat she could have been allocated.
It was worse for another traveller, a woman called Lyn, who had paid the extra $5 to allocate her seat before the flight, only to find she was too late, despite being an hour early before the flight.
Overbooking flights seems to be a worldwide practice for airlines and they do it, according to a Jetstar spokesperson on the day, so they cover their losses for those passengers who don't turn up.
When it was suggested they were 'double dipping', as all passengers pay for their seat before they arrive, the spokesperson said they lose money when they have to accommodate a late passenger on another flight.
Losing a seat because of an oversold flight is often a very rare thing, because airlines go to great pains to work out exactly how many passengers they think won't turn up, according to an article by Marketplace, an American Public Media newsletter article published in 2015.
Jetstar's online Customer Guarantee points said the loss of a seat due to overbooking is a rare occasion, although it happened to my girlfriend's daugher, but they worked to get her and our new friend Lyn on to the next available flight, providing food vouchers and a $100 travel voucher for future use.
This may be cold comfort to a passenger who has a connecting flight, or plans at the other end of the trip that are disrupted by the delay.