One Airline Requires Passengers To Re-Confirm Their Reservations Like It’s 1962

No shows have been huge throughout the pandemic, which is odd, especially during challenging economic times you’d think people would cancel their trips to retain flight credit.

Airlines have been cancelling trips at the last minute, too, though that’s died down. By cancelling last minute they didn’t have to refund passengers. Now there aren’t nearly as many passengers to refund – most tickets are purchased within 90 days of travel, so cancelling a flight four months into the pandemic doesn’t have the same economic cost to an airline.

Interestingly one airline is doing something about no shows, by taking a detour to the past. For tickets booked before June 10, for travel July 1 – September 15, passengers have to contact Emirates to reconfirm their flight 21 days prior to departure. (Bookings made through travel agents should be reconfirmed by the agent.)

As a kid growing up I recall the practice of ‘reconfirming’ reservations. When tickets were refundable they might have far more passengers booking than would actually travel. Overbooking was a much bigger problem 50 years ago than it is in recent years, even though it garnered much more attention post-David Dao.

The Supreme Court actually weighed in on overbooking, noting how rare it had become because the airlines had become adept at handling it, in 1976 (Nader v. Allegheny Airlines, Inc., 426 U.S. 290).

Over the last two or three decades it’s been common to hear that no re-confirmation is required and this coincided with the rise of non-refundable tickets. Everything old, it seems, is new again.

(HT: Loyalty Lobby)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Is this even legal? Emirates can ask passengers to reconfirm but especially in the EU I see issues if Emirates decides to cancel a passenger’s reservation for failure to reconfirm.

  2. Yes, I remember the bad old days of needing to “reconfirm.” Of course in those days almost everybody used a travel agent to purchase a ticket. Many don’t recall that there once was no Internet and the typical traveler did not have ready access to flight information without going through one.

    An issue here would be simply getting through to someone at Emirates. Unless they make the reconfirmation something you can do by clicking a box online, lots of people traveling all over the world (which Emirates does, or will do again) are simply going to find reconfirmation difficult and time consuming, and often an extra cost to do, especially as this in itself would drive up the call volume massively. Terrible idea.

  3. Not sure what you mean here: “By cancelling last minute they didn’t have to refund passengers.”

    Airlines flying to/from/within the U.S. must refund passengers, regardless of when the airline decides to cancel the flight. There might be fewer passengers left on the manifest to refund, but that’s exactly why I keep writing about the importance of waiting until the last minute to make changes to your flight plans.

  4. @Zach Griff – exactly, I’ve written for over 3 months about not cancelling until close to departure. But when airlines cancelled flights one hour out nearly everyone that would have wanted a refund had already cancelled. This was a strategy some airlines used to minimize refunds, they’re paying crew *anyway* under the CARES Act.

  5. I’m a Balikbayan, still waiting for my re-rebooked flight to Frankfurt Germany. My Travel Agency said to wait. I hope to fly back soon .No means for a New Ticket. My Visa is until end of July. Please help!

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