After David Dao was dragged off of a United Express flight and bloodied five years ago, there was such an international uproar that airlines started offering large amounts of future travel dollars to people who would agree to be voluntarily ‘bumped’ off of flights, in order to avoid involuntarily denying anyone board. Once woman took to twitter, for instance, to announce her $10,020 haul from United Airlines:
I also got two $10 meal vouchers. I am going to go INSANE at Pizza Hut
— Allison M. Preiss (@allisonmpreiss) March 22, 2018
This got expensive. American Airlines gave out $250,000 in travel credit on a single flight. Carriers took steps to rein in their costs. By the time 2020 rolled around I declared that the post-David Dao era of generous compensation was ending. Early in the pandemic United cut its denied boarding compensation maximum by 75%.
Now American Airlines and Southwest – which had promised to stop overbooking – account for 70% of all involuntary denied boardings in the U.S. Candace Owens, though, thinks she knows how they’re keeping those numbers down.
According to the commentator, American sees that they’re overbooked on the day of travel, delays that flight for a long period so passengers make other plans, and then they no longer have to involuntarily deny anyone boarding.
Anybody else noticing American Airlines new habit of delaying and then un-delaying flights same day?
Should be investigated.
Pretty sure they are overbooking every flight and then faking long delays to force people to change their flights so they absorb no costs.
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) April 11, 2022
Let’s be 100% clear: American Airlines is perfectly capable of long flight delays without resorting to faking them.
Most passengers believe airlines regularly cancel flights that only have a few seats sold. In fact the airline is paying for the plane, paying for the crew, and usually needs the aircraft in the downline city to operate the next flight. Cancelling costs more than they’d save in fuel.
Still, conspiracy theories are tempting, and they aren’t always wrong! American, unlike United and several other airlines, willingly provided refunds for flights they cancelled during the pandemic. Other airlines played games. United even redefined the word cancel so that any flight on a route they still served wasn’t cancelled (if they cut down from 6 flights a day to 1, they hadn’t cancelled any flights). Nonetheless at the time I wondered whether their penchant for last minute cancellations was a way to avoid refunding customers.
Candace Owens, though, has lots of theories about American Airlines. She believes they want all of your AAdvantage miles to expire. Yet she still buys premium cabin tickets on the airline and once bought first class DC to Dallas, leaving me on the upgrade list.