It was expecting a comfortable journey home that a senior media executive reached the city airport on Thursday afternoon. He had every reason to be optimistic as he had a confirmed seat on a JetKonnect flight to Delhi.
However, his expectations were belied when an airline staffer curtly informed him that he would not be able to take the flight he was booked on, as it was overbooked. He would have to wait and would be accommodated in another flight, he was told.
"When I confronted airline officials with my confirmed ticket, they said they couldn't help as the flight was already full," the executive told dna.
According to aviation industry insiders, overbooking of tickets by airlines has been increasing, especially during the peak season and weekends. This allows an airline to fly almost at full capacity (seats remain vacant only if some passengers miss the flight or do not show up). The passengers who have confirmed tickets but are left behind are accommodated in another flight.
Iqbal Mulla, president, Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), agrees. "Passengers have to bear the brunt as airlines are not being held accountable for this anomaly."
International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade association representing over 240 airlines across the world, believes overbooking to be a commercial tool used by airlines to maximum seat utilization.
"There is no international standard with respect to the level of overbooking as that depends on the individual carrier's commercial policy, market, profile of the passenger, etc," Albert Tjoeng, assistant director, Corporate Communications, IATA had earlier told dna.
Some airlines have invested in applications to help them maximize their seat utilization using historical data on cancellations and overbooking, reveal aviation experts.
Though passengers say this is an "unfair trade practice", according to legal experts it's legal, as all issues connected to this practice have been settled by an order of the Maharashtra State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission in Jet Airways (India) Ltd vs. Dhiren N Sheth case.