United Airlines is making it easier than ever to volunteer your seat in an oversell situation. New technology on the mobile app, united.com, and airport check-in kiosks will provide more options, including instantly confirmable alternate flight arrangements (with compensation).
The goal behind this new technology is to further reduce involuntary denied boardings (IDBs), situations in which a confirmed passenger is forced off a flight against her will. While noting that overbooking situations remain a reality of flying, United highlights that IDBs are down 97% since last November over the same period a year earlier:
Flights can become overbooked for many reasons – weather, mechanical issues and air traffic control issues are just a few – and when this happens, airlines ask for volunteers who are willing to take a different flight in exchange for compensation like a travel voucher. We’ve gotten better and better at this, with automated solutions that allow customers to bid for the compensation they’d accept to be rebooked, along with policies and procedures that help smooth the way. In fact, United’s recent efforts have already resulted in a dramatic decrease in the number of involuntary denied boardings (IDBs) that occur, which have dropped 97 percent year to date through November versus the same period last year.
Consequently, United is rolling out the following new features in overbooking situations:
- Ability to volunteer on specific flight options that appear at airport kiosks, on united.com, and on the United mobile app
- Earlier volunteer opportunities – up to 24 hours prior to departure versus on the day of travel
- More options for selecting flights
- Compensation option in miles instead of just travel credits
- Ability to self-rebook on a different flight during check-in
Airports with common-use kiosks (the ones that several airlines share) will not see these added VDB options until next year, but most airports as well as the mobile app and united.com will offer these enhanced options starting this week.
I have not had a “bump” in several years now…I do miss those old days of much more aggressive overbooking on the pre-merger United side. But I appreciate the new technology which takes some of the guessing game out of volunteering your seat. More importantly, it seems to offer a win-win choice for both passenger and United.
Have you experienced United’s new volunteer solicitation enhancements?