United Airlines has come up with an innovative plan to tackle the increasing number of passengers on busy flights.
The airline has launched the test of a new ‘Flex Schedule’ program this week that aims to email passengers much in advance on certain flights and enquire of they would consider availing the overbooked flights in exchange for a travel voucher for up to $250.
The emails would be coming with catchy subject lines like ‘Are You Flexible with Your Travels to Los Angeles?’ that would be sent in partnership with Volantino that is a travel technology start-up.
Also, the airline would be asking the passengers if they would be ready to take an earlier or later flight. But then, it would not ask them to alter the dates or airports.
This unique Flex Schedule program, would only be open to frequent flyer members booking directly on United.com and have chosen to receive direct emails.
For several years, the airlines have offered passenger seat upgrades or $1,000 cash or even more if they give up their seats on overbooked flights and go for a later flight. And, in case there are no volunteers, the air travellers might also be subjected to ‘involuntary bumping’.
This strategy has been launched with an effort to deal with the issue of overcrowded flights, by taking care of the issue much in advance instead of at the entrance of a packed plane.
Also, United enjoys an advantage here.
It would be capable of reselling its freed-up seats to business travellers willing to pay more.
United has, on the other hand claimed that the Flex Schedule program has been designed to free up valuable seats to travellers requiring it at a greater urgency and is not just about overbooking.