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Overbooking and no shows on commercial flights


Mission, TX
I spent some 8 hours today watching the A&E TV programs '"Airline" about Southwest Airlines and it reminded me of something I went through many years ago. Many of the situations about Southwest were about over booking. Having spent so many years in commercial aviation and having seen a lot, let me give you an example of what happened one Christmas out of Prudhoe Bay in the 70s. I will not use the actual name (oh how I wish I could) of the person involved but really hope he is reading this and understands just what he did to the rest of the flying public trying to get home to their familys at Christmas time. More on this at the end of the story.

At that time, Wien had 5 commercial flights using combi 737s with 76 seats per flight. This guy booked a seat on each flight, every day for 5 days under 5 different names. If my poor math is correct, he booked 125 seats just on us.

Once in Anchorage, he did the same with all carriers out of Anchorage to Seattle. Now these numbers will be approximate since I don't know all the flight schedules at the time for Western, Alaska, United and Northwest so will have to give an estimate.

I believe Alaska was running 5 flights per day, Western 4 flights per day, United maybe 2 flights per day and Northwest maybe 4 flights per day. Lets see, if my math is correct, the guy booked 125 seats on Alaska, 100 seats on Western, 50 seats on United and 100 seats on Northwest. Total 375 seats plus the 125 seats on Wien. Give or take a few seats, that guy booked enough seats to fill a 747 Anchorage to Seattle and a 737 from Prudhoe Bay to Anchorage with all empty seats. That is one reason airlines over book.

Needless to say, lots and lots of people were on standby trying to get seats especially out of Prudhoe Bay. Many flights went out with empty seats because of the no show passengers, this same guy, over the 5 days.

Now "the rest of the story"

When the guy got back to Prudhoe Bay after New Years, he started bragging about what he had done and how he got away with it but he did it at the wrong place though, in my airline terminal in front of people that couldn't get a seat out durring those 5 days. He was in the ARCO medical facility within hours with rather bad injuries from all the beatings he took by the work crews he worked with. I came very close to denying him passage on any of our flights to get to a hospital but since it was for a medical problem, I finally took him although I rode security on that flight just in case. That guy never worked in the oil patch again and I suspect he had a real rough time flying anywhere once his name hit the airline computer systems and he was blackballed everywhere.

There was one guy working in the oil patch at Prudhoe Bay that caused so much trouble in my terminal while waiting for a flight that I refused to transport him at all and once I passed the information on to another carrier, they wouldn't transport him either. His company finally had to fly in a charter with security guards just to get him out of the oil patch.
Re: justice

Stearman600 said:
You mean there is justic in life, after all?

Congratulations :angel:

I suspect now days this could not happen but in the early days of security, someone had to lay down the law. The oil VIPs really appreciated what I was trying to do on the north slope until I hired the first female in the oil patch that is. Someone had to start it but my company sent in a 737 just to pick me up (talk about a fast turnaround) and fly me to Anchorage to talk to the airline owner who had been called by the oil companies.
Guess what? I stayed and the lady, a grandmother, stayed and from there on, it is history and over 10% of the employees during the pipeline construction were women. Lots of the ladies actually worked two jobs. One day shift and the other night shift so to speak. There are those that suggest some of the ladies earned nearly a half million dollars per year working both jobs.