Louisiana the Overbooked Flights Capitol of World, But Why?
If you haven't flown out of Lafayette, Louisiana's new airport terminal, or the recently remodeled terminals at New Orleans' Louis Armstrong International Airport then you are going to be pleasantly surprised when you do. Both cities New Orleans and Lafayette have air transportation facilities they can be proud of today but were designed to be able to expand for the future, which looks very bright for air travel in The Boot.
But the chances are that if you've flown into Louisiana, maybe not the New Orleans airport, but Lafayette, Lake Charles, Alexandria, and Shreveport for sure you've heard an announcement asking for volunteers to give up their seats on the plane. The gate attendant will usually state that "we are in an oversold situation" and "are looking for volunteers with flexible travel plans". Sound familiar?
In the headline, we stated that Louisiana is the overbooked flight capital of the world. We don't know that to be an official fact but if you've ever flown into some of our smaller airports you know somebody is going to be asked to volunteer to change flights or somebody is going to be voluntold to stay at the gate.
The question that I always hear as soon as this announcement is made is this one, "How are the airlines allowed to do this"? If you or I had a business and took money from people for a service that we were unable to offer we'd probably get a visit from the police. But the airlines have different rules.
Why Are Airlines Allowed to Overbook Flights?
Believe it or not, it actually helps the air carriers keep the costs down for those who travel. You see, airline ticket sales are based on a mathematical formula. No, they don't just sell the number of seats they have on the plane. This formula accounts for travelers who made a different connection, missed a connection, changed their travel plans, or for some other reason couldn't make the flight. It happens a lot more than the casual traveler such as you or I would know.
The rules/laws are written in such a way that allows the air carriers the freedom to book passengers and sell tickets with no guarantee that the ticket purchased will actually be for the flight intended. The airline's only obligation is to get you to your destination in as timely of a manner as possible, hence the next available flight when they are handing out vouchers for free miles and air travel.
I personally don't care for the practice and it always makes me nervous if I am running late for a flight. To assure that you have no trouble with your flights or your tickets the airline experts suggest that you check in as early as you can. Usually, the earliest you can check in is 24 hours before a flight. Once you've checked in make sure you get your seat assignment and a boarding pass as quickly as you can.
Then you hold all the cards when the announcement about "flexibility in your travel plans". You can take the flight you've booked or get the free vouchers and airline miles if you've got the time. Oh, another way to almost always ensure you won't get bumped on a flight is to purchase an upgraded ticket. Airlines don't like bumping their high-paying customers that ride up front. So there's another choice you could make.
And one more tip if I may. If you're flying into an airport with only a few flights per day do your best to not schedule your travel plans on "the last flight in". If a flight is going to get canceled, it's going to be that one. And yes, I know all the best places to sleep at Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, Bush Intercontinental in Houston, and DFW Airport in Dallas/Fort Worth. Experience, she's a great teacher.
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