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Handling overbooked flights

MEL_Traveller

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That link clearly states exactly what I said, that flight times aren’t part of your contract.
Apologies. The overall phrasing of your post sounded a lot like airlines when they tell us they are not responsible for delays and flight times do not form part of the contract.

The broader picture is that while the exact departure or arrival time might no be guaranteed, there is an overriding consumer protection that the flight must be provided within a reasonable time.
 
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It sounds like the flight was only overbooked because the winds at Sydney necessitated using a single runway therefore reduced capacity therefore cancelled flights. Sorry JohnK but I don't like to hear that you decided to get angry for 2-3 minutes and directed your anger at the person who didn't cause the weather, didn't decide to build just one east-west runway at Sydney, didn't choose to use that runway, didn't cancel the flights, didn't book your child as an adult, didn't stuff up the linking of your separate bookings or write the IT that can't maintain the link, didn't write the procedure to handle overbooking and didn't choose to bump you. The people responsible for all those things are out there but you're yelling at the man/lady behind the desk who is then supposed to go and fix it all for you :(
 

MEL_Traveller

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Daughter has Velocity account and pools to me. Velocity number was in booking and bookings should have been linked as we were seated together. The service desk said bookings were not linked so they must have been unlinked by someone or not linked correctly in the first place.

Boarding pass was printed at service desk with daughters Velocity number on boarding pass. When I went back to check-in bag the new check in agent mentioned daughter was booked as an adult. I don't know how VA allows a child to be booked as an adult and it was this error that led to the offloading issue.
Sounds like the agent was confused. Your daughter's DOB will be in her Velocity profile, so they would know she was a child. This should have flagged she cannot travel by herself.
 

clipped_wings

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"That's irrelevant. I'm not interested in any other flights. I'm going on this flight. Take someone else off the flight"

"There is another Gold member who has not yet checked in. If he doesn't check in then I'll give that seat to your daughter"
"No that's not right either. I don't want to take someone else's seat.
Totally understand your frustration, but there is some conflicting information in your account of what transpired.

All that aside - I am really struggling to get past the bleeding obvious: isn't the age of a passenger recorded at the time of booking? Or, if not, once you turned up with a very obvious 2 year old - why didn't that rather lengthy conversation immediately dilute to just finding two seats together on the same flight?
 

JohnK

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Totally understand your frustration, but there is some conflicting information in your account of what transpired.

All that aside - I am really struggling to get past the bleeding obvious: isn't the age of a passenger recorded at the time of booking? Or, if not, once you turned up with a very obvious 2 year old - why didn't that rather lengthy conversation immediately dilute to just finding two seats together on the same flight?
What conflicting information?

The first check in said nothing at first and then said your bag is overweight at 24.2kg. Opened bag at check in counter and took out baby formula and bag was now 23.1kg so she put a Heavy tag on bag. She then said flight is full and offered next available flight and when I insisted on same flight she had no authority to remove anyone and I had to go to Sales desk.

I'm now panicking as we're getting close to check in close and yes I did get angry and that is probably wrong but I was put in a stressful situation and it was not my fault. Winds in SYD is a poor excuse.

Service desk is where I found out that apparently bookings are not linked and I'm still on this flight and 2 year old daughter offloaded. She spoke to Supervisor on phone then went away for more than 5 minutes. When she came back she offered to wait for the Gold member not yet checked in and if he didn't turn up my daughter can have that seat.

At that point I said that's wrong to take anothers seat and explained how I need to be in Brisbane and can she can get me to BNE instead. She said why I didn't say that in the beginning. She checked and put us on the 6:00pm to BNE and printed boarding passes with seq #117, #118 so not a full flight.

Back to check in with luggage and a different check in agent mentioned my daughter was booked as an adult and fixed the booking.

How does this happen? How can you have a DOB of a 2 year old but an adult on the booking? Every other time I've made these bookings they've taken 5-10 minutes but this time they took about 45 minutes so perhaps an inexperienced call centre person.

Put yourself in same situation and if you can remain calm throughout then you've done really well. Time to send feedback and see what sort of explanation I receive.
 

Ade

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why didn't that rather lengthy conversation immediately dilute to just finding two seats together on the same flight?
@clipped_wings : Completely agree with you and my feeling EXACTLY !!

Regardless of how the booking went, how the DoB was/was not captured at the time of booking or how the booking agent missed to see the DoB from the 2 YO's FF profile - When @JohnK turned up at the airport with a tiny tot in tow, why was the agent not able to see that and get them two seats, together, on the same plane. I didn't mean the plane he was originally booked on, but a different one, if in the case of overbooking, but the same plane.

I have to agree with a few others in the thread that mentioned that @JohnK 's reaction to the agent was not very welcoming, but, I'd think he did/responded the way he did, because

1. He had a 2YO, who needs to get home before bed-time
2. Or needs to be fed her usual/healthy meal
3. Or just that he had to make to a connecting flight and keep the 2YO entertained for the entire duration of both flights

We don't know, but can only guess :)

I agree that the reaction was not friendly, but I guess, it just was not his day, sadly

I'm not taking sides, just looking at the whole situation through the lens of an impartial observer.

If I was the agent at the airport, I'd have CERTAINLY played this thing differently. I say this because, besides my full time IT job, I also get involved in customer service in a part time capacity

I'd done the following :

1. If I see a kid, I'd be the first one to go "Oh, hello there! how're you today?", "I see that you're flying today with your father, isn't it exciting?", "What do you enjoy the most about being on a big airplane?", "Do you like the toys they give you?" etc etc, just to keep the kid happy. Kids love when you engage with them, talk to them, listen to them, look excited and have a big smile and all that ...

2. Next turn over to the parent and explain calmly that the flight is overbooked, unfortunately and ask if they'd be willing to take the next flight ? Give the customer some options rather than just "flight is overbooked, can't take you in, talk to Sales, NEXT!"

3. More importantly, in the case on hand, ask what their final destination and see if there are any direct flights to that destination ? From the OP, at the end @JohnK mentioned that the agents were able to get him on a direct flight to BNE. So why not be proactive and ASK the customer if OOL is his final destination and if not, see if there are options to fly direct ?

4. And if the situation turns out that there are no seats on the current flight, ask if the parent would want something for the kid - a bottle of water or snacks or biscuits or anything that would make the customer feel valued/appreciated for his time, BUSINESS and of course, something that isn't valued much these days, LOYALTY :)

I'm not sure what a day the agent at the airport had, but, being in customer service is a privilege and a honor and I guess it wasn't the agents day either :)
 

JohnK

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Apologies. The overall phrasing of your post sounded a lot like airlines when they tell us they are not responsible for delays and flight times do not form part of the contract.

The broader picture is that while the exact departure or arrival time might no be guaranteed, there is an overriding consumer protection that the flight must be provided within a reasonable time.
I think we've had this discussion many times.

Airlines may vary flights times but they have no right to move you from a flight without your permission first. if I book the 3:00pm flight then I'm on the 3:00pm flight unless that flight is delayed.

What is extremely wrong is turning up to the airport and told your flight is full so we're moving you.

Firstly my flight wasn't full when I booked. If you know that 5-6 people don't turn up for flights but sometimes everyone turns up then anyone you add at the last minute to create an overbooking situation can only travel if people don't turn up. You don't give them a confirmed seat and inconvenience others.

Secondly you can't move me without offering anything. I really don't care for fine print. If I was offered a free flight I would have moved within reason.

Thirdly I am travelling with a 2 year old. On Saturday I was planning to be at OOL at 1:30pm for a 3:00pm flight that didn't take off until ~6:45pm. Luckily I saw SMS before we left otherwise we would have been at the airport for 5 hours and it's not easy to keep a 2 year old amused that long. I didn't want a repeat in SYD especially at that time of night. The last time Virgin stuffed me around we got to Brisbane just before midnight.

As it turns out there was a unique sequence of events that went wrong that caused this situation. Online check in is one way of avoiding this issue but that can cause other issues.
 
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Winds in SYD is a poor excuse.
The airlines get slots from the airports and on the day prior, if the weather forecast is for strong winds, air traffic control instructs airlines to cancel a percentage of their flights (no ifs, no buts, you cancel flights and consolidate passengers on your remaining flights). If you don't agree with that process, you need to talk to other organisations, not VA.
 
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MEL_Traveller

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Airlines may vary flights times but they have no right to move you from a flight without your permission first.
But they do. As a very frequent flyer you agree to this every time you make a booking.

How about when it works the other way? On a quntas flight there have probably been times where another passenger has been bumped to accommodate you, as a platinum.
 

JohnK

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Here are some useless statistics for SYD-OOL on Sunday afternoon

- JQ412 arrived 2:36pm, 6m late
- VA523 arrived 2:20pm, 10m early
- QF1566 arrived 3:21pm, 9m early
- JQ410 arrived 3:28pm, 7m early
- JQ418 arrived 4:30pm, on time
- VA527 cancelled
- QF1570 arrived 5:17pm, 8m early
- JQ414 arrived 5:50pm, 10m early
- VA535 arrived 7:08pm, 38m late
- TT622 arrived 8:04pm, 94m late
- JQ424 arrived 6:53pm, 7m early
- VA539 arrived 7:26pm, 4m early
- JQ422 cancelled
- VA543 arrived 10:15pm, 105m late
- QF1574 arrived 8:28pm, 12m early
- VA545 arrived 9:58m, 28m late

JQ and QF do not appear to have had issues. Assuming VA539 was full we would not have got to BNE apartment on Sunday night.

In my opinion, and my experience, VA do not handle disruptions well. I need to rethink my strategy when travelling back to SYD with daughter every 4-5 weeks.
 

esseeeayeenn

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Awful experience but there is a caution in this. We talk about "linked bookings" all the time but AFAIK there is really no such thing.
It just means a note has been placed on each booking about the existence of the other. They are not linked in any meaningful way,
The system still treats them as individual bookings and anything which is automated will not have any regard to the notes.
It is only if a staff member tries to change something manually that they MIGHT notice the notes and take them into account.
So if the offload process was automated, and the last person to check in was automatically selected, no one would have noticed the "linked booking" until the PAX fronted at checkin and complained.
Not a criticism but for myself, I woud only rely on a linked booking for something relatively unimportant such as seat allocation for two adults who could sit separately if necessary. I would not rely on the fragile fiction of a linked booking to keep an adult with a young child.
 

JohnK

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The airlines get slots from the airports and on the day prior, if the weather forecast is for strong winds, air traffic control instructs airlines to cancel a percentage of their flights (no ifs, no buts, you cancel flights and consolidate passengers on your remaining flights). If you don't agree with that process, you need to talk to other organisations, not VA.
I totally understand flights are cancelled all the time. I know because I've had more than my fair share over the years.

Why would you move people from cancelled flights to full flights creating overbooking situations in the hope that someone will not turn up for that flight. Total and utter nonsense.

Move displaced people to available flights and put them on standby for full flights and if people don't check in by the time boarding starts then flow others forward.

Too difficult to manage? Very simple to manage. Occurs everyday with people wanting to travel on earlier flights. Airlines should be used to it by now?

@MEL_Traveller I would certainly hope that as a Qantas Platinum I have never displaced anyone on another flight when my flight has been cancelled. In fact I believe Qantas handles disruptions in a very professional manner. Of course I could be wrong.
 

Bagpuss

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Printed on EVERY Virgin Australia Electronic Ticket.
It's pretty simple put they should have asked for volunteers first.
Always have a copy of an electronic ticket to hand (even if it's on a mobile device) and present to the airline rep.

Overbooking Of Flights
Airline flights may be overbooked, and there is a slight chance that a seat will not be available on a flight for which a person has a confirmed reservation. If the flight is overbooked, no one will be denied a seat until airline personnel first ask for volunteers willing to give up their reservation in exchange for a payment of the airline's choosing. If there are not enough volunteers the airline will deny boarding to other persons in accordance with its particular boarding priority rules. With few exceptions, including failure to comply with the carrier's check-in deadline which are available upon request from the air carriers, persons denied boarding involuntarily are entitled to compensation. The complete rules for the payment of compensation and each airline's boarding
priorities are available at all airport ticket counters and boarding locations. Some airlines do not apply these consumer protections to travel from some foreign countries, although other consumer protections may be available. Check with your airline or your travel agent.
 

Bagpuss

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I would certainly hope that as a Qantas Platinum I have never displaced anyone on another flight when my flight has been cancelled. In fact I believe Qantas handles disruptions in a very professional manner. Of course I could be wrong.
Qantas gets its fair share of complaints as well.
Sometimes when things aren't geting your way a cool head is required. If you start belittling employees or they feel threated (not saying you did, but just stating) they aren't going to helpyou out. That's pretty much human nature.
 

TomVexille

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I dare say airfares would probably rise if the airlines weren't allowed to overbook to some extent. And I'm sure someone would complain about that as well.

And the worst disruption I've had was when QF stuffed us around repeadtedly so one is not better than the other IME
 

Hvr

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I dare say airfares would probably rise if the airlines weren't allowed to overbook to some extent. And I'm sure someone would complain about that as well.

Exactly, and there wouldn't be a need for flexible fares that can be changed if required.

A simple fare where you either fly or lose your money, not matter the reason for needing to change, would cause much greater stress for passengers.
 

JohnK

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Printed on EVERY Virgin Australia Electronic Ticket.
It's pretty simple put they should have asked for volunteers first.
Always have a copy of an electronic ticket to hand (even if it's on a mobile device) and present to the airline rep.
Thanks for posting. And clearly mentions compensation payable for denied boarding although I haven't seen the signs at the ticket counter or Sales desk. Hidden?
 

opusman

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I think the bit about compensation is only for flights to/from the US.
 

wxxnxs

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There's nothing with over selling tickets, however VA makes every steps wrong when situation like this happens. I would ask for the compensation if VA can't get me on board after I pay for the ticket. Airlines make contract on their own benefit, such as if you no show, then you lose the value of the ticket or points, and if you make a change, then pay for the cost etc. However, if they off load you just because they oversold their tickets to make the revenue, then why passengers should cope with the inconvenience.
 

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