Overbooking policy makes for anxious start to cruise

Judith Bartram, who ended up on standby for her BA flight to London City

Judith Bartram, who ended up on standby for her BA flight to London City

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A Douglas holidaymaker travelling to meet a cruise ship in the south of England was horrified to find her flight from Ronaldsway had been overbooked and she was on standby.

Judith Bartram, who lives at Derby Square, arrived to check in at Ronaldsway around 6am for a pre-booked 8am flight to London City airport on September 1.

The flight was part of her holiday package.

‘But when I handed my suitcase over they said they weren’t putting it on the plane yet as I was on standby,’ she said. ‘That was the first I knew about it. I was so shocked I could hardly speak.

‘I needed to be in Dover to meet the ship before 4pm. Travel arrangements were all in place but if I didn’t get on the flight, there was no other way of getting there before the ship left. They just dismissed it, saying I’d “probably” get on, otherwise I should claim on my holiday insurance!

‘I just want other BA passengers here to know this could happen to them and the outcome may not be happy.’

BA told them the flight was overbooked by five passengers and a full capacity had already checked in online. In total, four people were left waiting anxiously by the departures gate, wondering if their plans were ruined.

‘It was really disturbing because we just didn’t know what was going to happen. I stood to lose my holiday and I just couldn’t believe that five people – who had already checked in online – would simply fail to show up,’ she said.

In the event, all four passengers did get on the flight, but not until they had endured a nail-biting wait as their plans hung in the balance.

A BA spokesman said it was routine to overbook flights.

‘Many airlines operate overbooking policies because experience shows a small number of passengers do not turn up for the flight. If all such seats were left empty, it would stop other customers from travelling on the day they wanted.

‘By careful monitoring of booking and load patterns, we do our best to maximise the number of customers able to travel.

‘On the rare occasions when the number of booked customers turning up exceeds the seats available, we usually resolve it by offering a financial sum to customers willing to accept a confirmed booking on an alternative flight.’

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