To take more bookings for a flight (hotel) than can be accommodated
It is apparently common practice among airlines anxious to fill their planes to ‘overbook’ flights. Operators consider this necessary because passengers booked on a flight sometimes fail to turn up at the airport. This can be due to a change in travel plans for business reasons or because of unforeseen circumstances.
If everyone with a ticket for an overbooked flight reports at check-in, the airline has a problem – more passengers than seats. They address this by offering cash to the excess passengers to take another flight. Several hundred dollars are often handed out to persuade reluctant customers to comply. This practice is known as ‘bumping’.
United Airlines took persuasion to another level recently by physically removing a reluctant passenger seated on an aircraft preparing to leave Chicago for Louisville, Kentucky. The loudly protesting male was dragged from the plane by security staff. The incident was recorded on mobile phones by other passengers and soon appeared on social media channels. The CEO of United Airlines described the incident as “upsetting”.