Is a ‘no show’ just an excuse to sell the same seat twice?


Why do we need to check in for a flight?

It should be possible to assign a seat directly after booking.

When airlines are selling tickets for $100 and charging $500 to change them, no one wastes their time trying to change the ticket or inform the airline they’re not showing up.

The “no-show” has become an excuse used by the airlines to sell the same seat twice. Yet the airlines could save more money by eliminating the whole check-in process, even when you factor in the additional revenue they can potentially generate by overselling.

Overselling flights might have been useful when load factors were in the mid 60 percent, but today when 90 percent of planes are departing 98 percent full, it’s hard to rationalize overselling planes.


The airlines like to cry that airfares would rise because no-shows cost them money in unsold seats. Their preferred term is a “spoilable product.” That’s also the rationale why fully-flexible fares are so high, as it costs the airlines too much money when passengers don’t show up. And those seats could’ve been resold otherwise.

We’re still waiting for the explanation of how airlines lose money on no-show passengers when the seats have already been paid for, other than it gives an opportunity to gain additional revenue.

And, there is no factual evidence that revenue generated by overbooking is passed down to passengers in the form of lower fares.

In the United States, most tickets and vacation packages are sold as non-refundable and non- transferable. The airline keeps the revenue for the seat if you don’t show up.

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Kendall Creighton

Kendall Creighton is a political activist and previous Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee staffer in Washington, as well as in the Clinton White House. She currently works for FlyersRights.org, an advocacy group for airline passengers.

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