Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Cass R. Sunstein

A Simple Way to Ease the Pain of Airline Overbooking

Lift the limits on what airlines pay to involuntarily bumped passengers.
Candidates for bumping.

Candidates for bumping.

Photographer: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Something good might come of the horrible incident involving United Airlines, in which a passenger was forcibly evicted to make room for airline personnel. The Department of Transportation, working with the major airlines, should substantially increase the compensation given to passengers involuntarily bumped because of overbooking.

By itself, overbooking is not objectionable. Sometimes passengers miss flights because of late connections. Sometimes they just don’t show up. Most airlines occasionally overbook.