Mike on America

Airline Bookings: So This is Good Business?

It's the tenth or 11th phone call to the gate agent at O'Hare's United terminal in Chicago. The flight to Syracuse, New York is overbooked by ten, ten, seats. How is that possible? That's what Dave wants to know, as he basically begs anyone to come forward and take the free tickets and hotel room that will go to any volunteers to take a different flight.

So this is good business? It will come as no shock to anyone, and I mean anyone, that travels regularly that the airlines are the worst run business in the U.S. and maybe the world.

This is easily the 8th or 9th flight in a row that I've been on that's been 'overbooked'. I sat in Salt Lake City last week and listened to at least 15 straight announcements imploring people to 'volunteer' for free tickets. Volunteer to go on a flight tomorrow. Volunteer to go home and come back later. 'Sorry, we screwed up, no seat for you today, or tomorrow. We know you paid your money, we know you made your plans, we know there are people waiting for you in Des Moines or Toledo, but hey, sorry, come back later.'

This is a business???????

Headline in the USA Today this morning---'Fliers packed planes in July.' No kidding, Sherlock. All you have to do is fly once a week to figure that out. Yours truly hits three or four airports a week, every week. Quote in that article, from Jim Whitehurst, Delta's COO, his airline expects continued..'..solid demand moving forward..'. Hey Jim, fly commercial lately??????? How'd you like that middle seat?

The one thing the current high demand of passengers, low supply of planes has spawned is something one gate agent calls the 'show up and get free tickets' syndrome. Apparently there are folks that have this overbooking thing down to a science. They'll book tickets on flights with a history of overbooking, then 'volunteer' to be rebooked, and take the free tickets and free hotel rooms. Folks have been known to walk out of the airport, never having flown anywhere, after a full days 'work' with 4 or 5 free roundtrip tickets.

You know, I may try it. What the hell, I'm stuck at the airport as part of the 'solid demand' anyway. See you along the road. We're driving the rest of the week.

Questions?  Comments?  mikeonamerica@nbcuni.com