Six Reasons You Should Never Give Up On An Oversold Flight

by Kerwin McKenzie on August 20, 2014

Passriders waiting for a fligh to Hong Kong from Toronto

Don’t Give Up On An Oversold Flight


If you’re like me, you get bumped off flights all the time. I know that sometimes when we check flights and they are overbooked, people just give up. But sometimes, not all the times it may be worth it to hang around. So here are six reasons why it may be worth your while:


1. You don’t know the Passrider no-show rate

I don’t know of any airline that gives this piece of information. I’m hoping to convince them to do this, but no luck as yet. As such, you have no idea what percentage of that long 30-person list that will no-show. People often get frustrated and never cancel their listings. And just like regular passengers, they will also have issues in making their flight.


2. There could be misconnects

So what are misconnects? It’s when a paid passenger misses their connecting flight for any reason whatsoever. This happens a lot at hubs and especially for flights that connects with international flights. The immigration lines are pretty long for non-citizens/residents so passengers will miss their flights and get re-booked on later flights. This is also why it makes sense if you have to travel to take earlier flights as opposed to the later ones.

Aeroflot Boeing 767-300 at gate in Toronto, ON Canada (YYZ)

3. There are always no-shows

Most airlines overbook their flights as there are always noshows. This means a passenger did not show up for many different reasons. They could have woken up late, had car trouble, kids won’t get up, etc. This is the premise on which we travel space available anyways :-). I’ve made flights before where people check-in at home and just never leave for the airport. Passengers are sometimes strange in things they do.


4. Sometimes people just don’t want to travel

This ties in with the no-shows above. Most tickets have a clause that allow you to cancel before you travel. There’s sometimes a charge to rebook though. And some passengers will actually exercise this option.


5. Passengers don’t always have the correct documents for travel

Some people ignore documentation requirements although they are told at the time of booking. Some countries such as Australia allows you to get the visa online and/or at the airport check-in counter. Others such as Brazil, India and People’s Republic of China takes at least a day to get, so if someone does not have the documents at check-in they more than likely will have to miss the flight. Also, believe it or not, some people forget their travel documents at home. Or don’t know they need permission from the other parent if they are carrying their child to certain countries. The list goes on and on. So you just never know.


6. There may be an equipment change in your favor

Cathay Pacific (CX) Boeing 777-300 at gate in YYZ

This is a rare occurrence, but it happens. I’ve visited my parents and the 37-seater got upgraded to a 50-seater and I got on as a result. Otherwise, it would have been Greyhound for me.



So there you have it. Don’t give up when the flights are oversold. You should really have backup options, but sometimes when they are minimal or non-existent you just have to wait it out.



What have you found in your travels? Any other reasons you think that an oversold flight may just work out? Please leave a comment below; Like and share with your fellow passriders.



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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Sheila K August 20, 2014 at 10:00 pm

Reason #7 happened today!!!

30 minute mechanical delay had gate agents rebooking those with tight connections. I got a seat I really didn’t expect to get! Watching the “number checked in” number drop was a pretty nice feeling!!! Had I rushed to the other gate to try for a much worse flight combo, I would have missed out!!


avatar Kerwin McKenzie August 20, 2014 at 11:40 pm

You are right Sheila.
Thank you for your comment.
Flight delays is a good reason to stick around too. Although sometimes it works against you as people who would have misconnected now make their flight.
I’m glad this one worked in your favor :-).



avatar Kerwin McKenzie August 23, 2014 at 12:40 am

Wow Bob!
Thanks for sharing that story and thanks for the comments.

SEA and PDX are tough stations to Passrider…



avatar Robert B August 23, 2014 at 12:55 am

Stood by in SEA  for five flites over six hrs found a turbo to PDX and stood by for two flites! déjà vue all over again! went to cafe for chow then saw first flite back at gate offloaded all pax due 90 min gate hold as SFO flow  control slow down. We hovered at gate looking sad then got boarded as some pax walked away and left. There were some other empty seats on the flite! We were home at 11pm. This from a guy who has been on stand by since February 1957!  All six good points right the money.


avatar Judy August 23, 2014 at 4:10 am

Another suggestion is to never leave the gate until the plane is pushed away. Over the years, I got the seat because the people ahead of me gave up on that oversold flight and walked away. I was there, no one else ahead of me and I got the seat.  I notice at UA, the employee website often states how many seats the airline will book- this gives you an idea how many no shows the flight averages on a given day. When I see -1 or 2 , I always check the box that says how many seats can be sold. It doesn’t always help, but it is a tool. Unfortunately the smaller the plane, the less possible seats.


avatar Kerwin McKenzie August 23, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Great suggestion Judy.
I’ve made it on a few flights for that very reason you mentioned.



avatar Vince August 28, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Not just pushed away, but taxi’s out. I had a flight push away, and I’m telling the other bumped guy that I never leave until the airplane actually moves under its own power. Sure enough, mid pushback, the tug brings the airplane back to the gate: nervous flyer wants off, husband goes with her…and the guy I just told to stick around is amazed as we both get on.


avatar Kerwin McKenzie August 30, 2014 at 1:35 am

Awesome Vince,
Yeah, this happened to me once and loved it.
It happens.



avatar Carol August 25, 2014 at 9:32 pm

Does anyone know when United will go ticketless?


avatar Kerwin McKenzie August 25, 2014 at 9:55 pm

Hi Carol,

I assume you are talking about ID90 travel? As UA already have eticketing for employee travel.
If that’s the case I’d drop them a line from



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