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If you purchase a ticket and the airline cannot confirm a specific seat (as has happened to us) because the flight is oversold, they should not charge your credit card because you are actually flying standby. And they should have to tell you that you are flying standby. We were caught on a return flight without confirmed seats, and the “best” the airline could do was put my husband on one flight and make me wait for a later (who-knows-when) flight–even though we had a single car at the home airport and a very long drive home. Thankfully, a fellow passenger offered her seat and took a voucher.
In no other type of purchase do you make a reservation and pay full price in advance (usually with all sorts of restrictions on the BUYER) without any guarantee that you will get what you have already paid for.