Airline Re-Booking Practices Coming Under Fire From Passengers


A Washington Post article highlighted airlines’ issues with rebooking bumped passengers. As examples, a Toronto man found his pet cats flew off to California without him on Air Canada, and Qantas re-booked a 13-month-old girl on one flight and her parents on another.

A little-known clause of the standard ticket contract known as “conditions of carriage” spells out an airline’s responsibilities in the case of delayed or canceled flights, and apparently, the terms favor the carrier over the carry-ee in many cases. For one thing, the paper writes, rules about seating minors under 13 with their parents are considered “guidance,” and rarely generate a fine if the airlines fail to toe the line.

Where it used to be that a group of travelers would all wait for the next flight if one or two members were bumped, that practice is now considered too risky. So, the left-behinds are more likely to fend for themselves and catch up later.

Airline analyst Bryan del Monte told the Post, “The only thing people can do is buy travel insurance. When the airline screws you over, it’s going to be travel insurance that pays for that extra hotel stay and the extra expenses”—unless the insurance company somehow denies the claim.

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. Great, combat soaring airfares and plummeting quality of service with yet another expense; travel insurance. A raw deal for the consumer, all too common.

    • Sure, but that’s not always possible. I can only afford a modest single-engine piston plane, and that won’t get me from the east coast to the west coast – at least, not in a reasonable amount of time, and it would cost more than flying commercially (not counting hotels along the way, it would also eat up about 2-3 months of my flying budget).

      • Your comment is quite true, but it also says how unrealistic airline pricing has been. Airline track record with multiple bankruptcies prove that.

    • No one to blame but ourselves. If anyone ever bothers to investigate they find that the candidates with the most money don’t always win. The reality seems to be that in most cases the money follows the support rather than the other way round.

      Of course, it’s easier to go back to blaming “them” and “money” so we can excuse ourselves for not getting any results. So we do.

      I blame “them” because I understand “money” better than people. 😂🤣

  2. Here’s a question: Why do the airlines all operate so similarly? Even SWA now looks a lot like “the majors”. I think if we understand the answer to that, the solutions, as strange as they may seem, will be more obvious.

  3. Mark, did you mean a 13 “year old” girl was rebooked, the story said 13 months old – that’s a bit young? You later reference 13 year old minors.

  4. Everyone hates airline management now, passengers, pilots, flight attendants and agents (perhaps baggage handlers too) and for good reason. Airline management has been atrocious lately. From schedule mismanagement to blanket mandates. Sure, management has received a lot of curve balls from weather to covid-19 but as they say, that’s why they make the big bucks. Deal with it. Unfortunately, management has not dealt with it and everyone suffers. Over millions of miles flown on commercial airlines, there is one correlation that is always true. When all the seats are filled, service sucks. When seats go empty, service improves. As long as the pilot shortage continues, flights will limited, seats will be filled and service will suck. Why the pilot shortage? One reason could be the number of pilots who have to stop flying. One pilots union is reporting a 300% increase in long term disability claims this year.

  5. I wish I ran an airline. Making tons of cash when the going is good and asking the government for a bailout when shot hits the fan. As a CEO I could make millions regardless of what outcome may occur. The one exception being Delta, they’ve had their shit together for the last few years. Maybe I give Ed Bastian a pass.

  6. I’m puzzled why AVweb consistently writes articles that consist purely of reporting on other outlets’ reports, but don’t include links to the original sources. Bad form, friends—extend to other journalists the same hyperlinking courtesy you would hope to receive.