This Is United's New Plan To Deal With Overbooking Flights

United Airlines is hoping to salvage its image by fixing its overbooking problem and offering a new Flex-Schedule Program, which offers early buyouts to flyers.

United Airlines has been going through a rough time lately.

But it hopes to change things by rolling out a new technology that would help with its problem of overbooking of flights (and then dragging unlucky passengers off), Bloomberg reported.

Called the Flex-Schedule Program, the airline would be offering buyouts before a fast-selling flight — by up to five days. Passengers will have the chance to sign up for this option via emails sent in partnership with aviation tech start-up Volantio. This way, people don't arrive at the airport to an overbooked flight, CBS News reported.

Keep in mind, these are only the folks who book through and even receive these emails.

Basically, the email asks if you're flexible with your travel dates, which United and Volantio assumes leisurely travelers will be. 


If you accept, you're rebooked in 24 hours, and you receive a voucher for up to $250.

"For airlines, it represents a release valve — a way to shuffle people around when you're capacity-constrained," Azim Barodawala, chief executive of Volantio, said, according to Bloomberg. "This benefits the customer as well, you're creating choice for them, and that's what gets me really excited. [Passengers] get the short stick a lot."

According to Dave Bartels, vice president for pricing and revenue management at United, the new program is mostly going to help free up a valuable seat for someone else who is in more need of it.

"The airline could offer your seat to someone whose priority is getting there faster, and you could take their seat on a later flight that you'll actually make," Barodawala said. 

Not to mention that United also profits off of this new program.

"This is a new world — it's the future of where travel is going  to go," he continued.

Only time will tell if United's new program actually helps people get to where they're going.

Thumbnail/banner image credit: Wikimedia Commons user skinnylawyer

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