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I wonder whether anyone (airlines, DOT, academics) has researched the difference between what airlines might lose due to unused seats (people not showing up at the last minute) versus what they pay out in compensation for people who have been bumped?
My guess is, given the airlines’ current lack of candor and transparency about passengers’ recourse, they must be profiting by current practices … otherwise they’d figure something else out.
On the other hand, if there’s no clear analysis of this, maybe the airlines are waging an unnecessary war.
I think the airlines should provide printed handouts that detail passengers’ rights in case of bumping … written in simple English (and perhaps other languages, available upon request?) and in a legible font size. This would ensure that the information is consistent and thorough and would allow already-burdened gate agents to concentrate on other aspects of their jobs.