Overbooking flights is reaching unacceptable levels

[Travel News ]


(P1) You’ve booked your flight online so you would expect that meant a confirmed seat on the plane. For most that would be true, yet thousands of holiday-makers find themselves bumped off an overbooked flight, especially at peak times such as Valentine’s or Easter.

(P2) That’s because on some flights as many as 150 tickets are sold for every 100 seats. An EU report has warned that this practice is reaching unacceptable levels and BA admitted it overbooked almost half a million seats a year.

(P3) Officially known as “denied boarding” this has become standard practice. It is not illegal and airlines say they do it because statistically, some passengers will not show up. These “no-shows” tend to be business or first-class passengers with flexible tickets.

(P4) easyJet say that five per cent of passengers don’t show up but that is no solace for those who have booked, paid for, and turned up for their much anticipated holiday

(P5) Some airlines will ask for volunteers, others may just inform you that you won’t be flying. Of course, the airline will compensate you anything as follows: £217/€200 for a short haul flight, £347/€400 for longer flights within the EU and £521/€600 for long haul flights. Unlike compensation for delayed or canceled flights, this compensation will be paid immediately.

WORDS: 213

SOURCE: http://www.thetravelmagazine.net/overbooking-flights-reaching-unacceptable-levels.html

VOCABULARY: meant, holiday-makers, overbooked, unacceptable, statistically, solace, compensate, unlike


If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly, summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. In your opinion, do you think it should be illegal to overbook flights? Why or why not?
  3. If you were asked to volunteer to take a later flight for money, would you? Why or why not?
  4. Why do you think people don’t show up for their flights?


  1. Which 2 holidays see the most overbooked flights?
  2. It’s illegal to sell more tickets than the flight can hold. (T or F)
  3. What’s another name for people who don’t show up for their flights?
  4. Overbooking a flight is common practice. (T or F)
  5. How long will it take an airline to pay compensation if you are bumped from a flight involuntarily?


What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • Bumped off (P1)
  • Standard practice (P3)
  • Turned up (P4)
  • Short haul flight (P5)
  • Long haul flight (P5)

Cambly Practice Button

Image source: by “unknown http://www.thetravelmagazine.net/wp-content/uploads/jet.jpg

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