Overbooking a flight means that airlines will accept a few additional reservations for seats on a flight beyond the aircraft's seating capacity. Airlines overbook to attempt to fill seats left empty by Passengers who don't show up for their flight or don't cancel their reservations prior to the flight's departure. Overbooking also creates booking opportunities for Customers who really want or need to be on a flight that is showing full but likely to depart with available seats. In fact, the majority of overbooked flights depart with empty seats because the formula we use to derive our booking levels is carefully applied and quite conservative.
If you would like to know whether the flight for which you are making reservations or scheduled for travel is overbooked, contact one of our Customer Representatives at 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792) or a Customer Service Agent at the airport.
An oversale takes place when more confirmed Customers check in ontime and show up for the flight than our aircraft will accommodate, leaving one or more confirmed Customers without a seat.
We realize that everyone has a reason to travel. At the same time, we understand that many travelers are fairly flexible about their departure and arrival times. When a flight oversells, the first thing our Customer Service Agents do is ask those who have checked in and received a boarding pass if they will volunteer to take a later flight. Southwest does not involuntarily deny boarding to any Customer who is holding a boarding pass, regardless of fare purchased, status in our frequent flyer program, or any other reason.
If you volunteer to give up your seat in an oversale situation and we can rebook you on a Southwest Airlines flight that will arrive within two hours of your originally scheduled arrival time, we will give you a travel voucher in the amount of $100 plus an amount equal to the face value of your one-way flight coupon(s).
If we cannot confirm your travel within two hours of your originally scheduled arrival time, you will be placed on a priority standby list, and your compensation will increase to a travel voucher in the amount of $300 plus an amount equal to the face value of your one-way flight coupon(s). If you are not accommodated as a standby Customer, we will confirm you on a later Southwest Airlines flight(s) with seats available to your destination. You will not incur an increase in fare.
If we do not receive enough volunteers to accommodate all Customers who have purchased travel and have met our checkin time but do not hold a boarding pass, those Customers will be involuntarily denied boarding. We will confirm you on the next Southwest Airlines flight to your destination with seats available. If your alternative flight(s) is scheduled to arrive at your destination or stopover point within two hours of your originally scheduled flight(s), you will be compensated. We will immediately issue a check or, if you prefer, a travel voucher in an amount equal to twice the face value of your remaining one-way flight coupon(s). The maximum amount of involuntary denied boarding compensation is $650 under these circumstances.
If your alternate flight(s) is scheduled to arrive at your destination or stopover point more than two hours later than your originally scheduled flight(s), your compensation will increase to an amount equal to four times your remaining one-way flight coupon(s). In these cases, the maximum amount of denied boarding compensation increases to $1,300.
If you are involuntarily denied boarding, you will also be given a written Notice of Denied Boarding to help you understand our policies, your compensation, and your travel alternatives.