24 January 2016

Another Problem

I know I am supposed to condemn Andie MacDowell for daring to complain about being downgraded from 1st Class to Coach...

But I cannot.

She paid for a 1st Class seat and that's the seat American Airlines should have seated her in, or offered a huge refund.

It's Econ 101, if you sell something you have to deliver what was sold.  You owe at least what was agreed at a minimum.

Considering that I've witnessed  125% capacity for the aircraft standing in the terminal with tickets in hand... someone obviously isn't hold up their end of the agreement.

It's an example of what's wrong with businesses at many levels.

Airlines should be dirt simple in concept.

Assign planes to a route.  Schedule their departures.  Sell tickets.  Fly the plane.


If the plane has 100 seats, you can sell 100 tickets.

If you only sell two tickets for that flight, you fly anyway with 98 empty seats.

Can't afford that?  Cancel the route, not the flight.  But you honor the tickets sold.

How we ended up where we are is when 100 tickets are sold, but only 90 people show up at the gate.  The airline realized they could sell those 10 seats to people who wanted to take the flight and didn't already have a ticket.  I don't have a problem with this.

The problem is they got greedy and started doing calculations that predicted the number of people who wouldn't show for flights and then routinely overbooking the flight(s).  This works until your model meets reality and everyone who bought a ticket shows up.  Now what?

With 125 ticket holders and 100 seats...

Rather than have a contingency airplane available, they simply rewrote the contracts to read they weren't actually obligated to take you anywhere and were transporting your paying ass out of the kindness of their hearts, aren'tyouluckyweare?

So they can sell you something they're under no obligation to deliver to you and since you signed the contract you can't even do much more than sullenly complain about it on Twitter.

Is it any wonder that airlines are in cyclical bankruptcy?


  1. Part of the issue (hers? Did she choose the seat? American's? Did they put her there?) was that she had a seat in the 1st row, no "underseat" storage, so no place to stash her critter. It wasn't a capacity issue, tho they should have offered to have her swap seats or something. American definitely goofed, tho.

  2. +1 they fucked up.

    Also I'm totally cool with the scenario where I can arrive 4 hours later on my way home from vacation and get a free plane ticket for biting the bullet.

    Seems every flights I've been on where "too many people" showed up, seems there were always plenty of people who walked away happy.

    But yeah, pay for first class, she should get First class....or coach with a refund, or a later FC seat and a free flight back.

  3. I hadn't paid any attention to this story when it was briefly in the news, but I went to that People link. You're absolutely right, and so was Andie MacDowell. I didn't see any problems in what she said, no implication that she didn't want to sit in coach with "filth", like that one a**hole said. She paid for a 1st class seat, and they should give her that seat. Period.

    Like Weer'd says, I've been booked on flights that were overbooked and the airlines offer another ticket to take a later flight, and people go away happy. I've never been able to take advantage of it myself because I never hit that offer going home. It's always when I have an appointment or reservation somewhere and can't take the delay.

    1. I got an upgrade to first class in this manner on a flight home. If I was willing to wait for the next plane six hours from now, I could sit up front. Frankfurt to NY(s)FC in coach now, or first class later? It was a no brainer for me.

      1989 Lufthansa first class is VERY nice, just in case you get a chance.

      They even made deals with my follow-up carriers to get me from JFK to St Louis and then to Des Moines and included the hotel in St Louis because the last leg was a once a day flight.


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