Saturday, March 31, 2007

Airlines and their Overbooking Policies - Jet Airways

Recently there was a lot of heat generated when people heard about "Overbooking in flights by Air Deccan". I thought Air Deccan, being an airline known for its poor customer service, only such a thing could be expected of it.

But i was shocked to know that Seat Allocation/ overbooking is the most important problem even in the esteemed British Airways when i went through their case - "British Airways - Using Information Systems to Better Serve the Customer", as a part of my Marketing Course.

A Google search came out with the following incidents of overbooking by other airlines around the world.
  1. Overbooking Leaves Air Namibia Passenger in the lurch
  2. Air France Employees Protest Overbooking Policy
  3. Air NZ Passengers angry at being bumped

So we can safely come to a conclusion that it is a standard practice in airlines all over the world to overbook so that they could cash on the opportunity of people missing the flights or cancelling in the last minute. But atleast these airlines accept it and don't give a blank refusal as Air Deccan is doing now. It will be a lie if somebody states that Air Deccan is the only one employing this business policy.

During the last Christmas Holidays, I went from Indore to Chennai via Mumbai in Jet Airways. In Indore, though we reached the airport only 5 or 10 minutes before the take off time, we were still allowed to board. But in Mumbai, we went to airport 25 minutes before the flight take-off but were rejected to board the plane. Since i did not know about the overbooking policies of the airlines during that time, I coughed around Rs. 8000/- more from my purse for booking another ticket to Jet Airways. Thinking back, now I realize how foolish I was, not to take a hint from the way - Jet Airways Personnel handled us. They (including the supervisor) rejected us(i.e. they did not even speak to us or not even looking at us.. no eye contact.. not even an explanation that we won't be able to board the flight) as if the mistake was theirs & not us, when they could have easily explained that we were late.

Read the famoous Blogger - Kiruba's experience with Jet Airways when they rejected him a seat due to over booking.

So the Directorate General of Civil Aviation(DGCA) rather than opposing overbooking in flights(which is a standard practice and a must for the survival for the low cost airlines), it could come up with the standard policies for airlines on how to handle the stranded passengers due to overbooking like the EU's policies regarding denial of boarding due to overbooking.

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