I have no problem with airlines overbooking flights. No shows and late shows are an inevitability and building some slack into your business plan to allow for it is good commercial sense that helps keep fares down for the paying passenger.
Indeed, last year I booked two £9.99 Ryanair fares from Dublin to Manchester with absolutely no intention of using them. A simple insurance policy against late arrival of our flight from Philadelphia the day before meaning we’d miss our preferred non-refundable flight back to Blighty. The insurance wasn’t needed. The £9.99 seats went empty, unless Ryanair deliberately overbooked.
The United Airlines situation is a little bit worrying. I mean how shabby is it to let somebody get to their seat before trying to persuade them to get off a plane? What on earth were the staff on the ground thinking and what ridiculous corporate pressure were they being placed under to create that situation?
As the title says, if I’d been on the plane everything would have been a lot calmer. You see, I have my price. And I’m cheap. $800, a night in a hotel and a seat on a flight the next day would almost certainly have been enough to persuade me to shift my posteria off the flight deck long before the need to call the cops. I’d have been skipping with joy high fiving the crew as I exited the plane. Throw in some airline status and I’d probably dance naked in the concourse as I seek out the hotel for the night!
I get that there are exceptions. If my medication was at risk of running out I might stay put. If expensive connecting flights are at risk I’m not sticking my hand up. If there’s a match to get to I might be less keen.
But everybody has their price. And if $800 isn’t enough to achieve your goal simply get your Lesley Crowther lookalike steward at the front of the plane and get passengers to start a reverse bidding war where the lowest bid walks.
Or better still, start the bidding at the departure gate. It’s far more civilised.