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An all things aviation blog

Airlines commit fraud on a continual basis, each day every day. Chances are if you have booked a ticket on an airline you have been a victim of fraud and you don’t even know it. Here’s how they do it and why they get away with it.

The definition of fraud is deceit for personal or financial gain.

Before we get to the airlines lets look a basic scenario. I have for sale on a 2002 Ford Focus ZX3 and you want to buy it. We agree on a price of $2000.00 and you pay me the money. The problem is, I don’t have said Ford Focus and when it comes time to hand over the keys you get nothing. I have deceived you, I fronted having a car but I didn’t have it, and I did it for gain your money. It’s pretty clear that’s fraud.

But what if we change that scenario just a little bit. You come to collect the car and I still don’t have it. But I offer you $500.00 back if you take delivery of the car next week and I prove that you will actually take delivery the following week. Have I still committed fraud, I think yes. Just because you were offered an alternative doesn’t mean I haven’t taken your money and failed to deliver a product.

Airlines sell product every day that they know they don’t have but will probably have by departure time. Airlines sell more seats then they have on the plane. If the plane has 150 seats they may sell 155 tickets. This means that if the flight is sold out, there are more passengers than seats. Those five passengers who purchased tickets but don’t have seats have been defrauded. The airline lied to them by telling them there were seats when actually those seats didn’t exist.

Airlines get away with defrauding customers by telling the public and the government that some people do not show up for their flight. So, even though more tickets more tickets were sold than seats that actually exist, it is doubtful that a person will be denied a seat. When there are more people than seats two things happen. First, the airline asks for volunteers to take a later flight for some compensation. As part of that, the volunteer actually signs away her rights to redress against the airline. If no one or not enough people volunteer, the airline involuntarily puts passengers on a later flight. Here the passenger is compensated with cash based on the length of delay.  A passenger who is involuntarily bumped doesn’t have to sign away any rights, and could potentially sue the airline. For involuntary denied boarding, the passenger’s compensation is set by the Department of Transportation, lending government approval to the airline’s fraudulent scheme.

Whatever happens and the fact that the passenger was compensated for the delay, the situation doesn’t change the fact that the airline used deception to increase their revenue. This is the very definition of fraud.


Happy Travels!


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