United Airlines is considering a marketing model that pays passengers to give up their booked seats so that the carrier can resell them for a higher price to other fliers.
The Chicago-based airline is in talks with Volantio, an Atlanta-based revenue optimizing company that is looking to work on similar projects with Alaska Airlines, Qantas and Tiger Airways, an Australia-based low-cost carrier.
United and other airlines have long offered cash or frequent filer miles to passengers on board overbooked airplanes who are willing to surrender their seat. A similar offer was made on board an April United flight, but nobody took the deal. That led to Dr. David Dao being dragged off the plane after he was randomly selected to be bumped by a computer system.
The program is not about overbooking, it is about the ways increase revenue
According to Bloomberg, the programs works like this.
Only those who book on United.com and opt in to receive marketing messages will be eligible for the sign-up offer—and signing up doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be asked to change your flight. If it’s looking like your seat has turned into a hot commodity, though, you’ll be offered the chance to tweak your itinerary in exchange for a travel voucher up to $250. And tweak is the key word: You’ll never be asked to change dates or airports, and your seat preferences will carry over, with clear indicators if you’re taking a downgrade from Economy Plus to regular-old Economy. (Downgrades will be rare, but upgrades will be even rarer.) Accept the bid if you wish, and you’ll be rebooked within 24 hours.