Which major airline is tackling overbooked flights?

Phuket, Thailand - April 27, 2011: Crowds of people waiting at the airline check in counters at Phuket airport, south Thailand

US startup Volantio claims to be solving the overbooking problem while generating more money AND improving customer satisfaction.

Who knew you could have all three?

In the wake of United’s Dr Dao scandal last year, where American Airlines forcibly removed a doctor from an overbooked flight, many airlines have already flocked to invest in the promise of avoiding another public relations nightmare.

According to Bloomberg, Volantio preventatively rejiggers inventory by offering buyouts to flexible passengers.

And they’re doing pretty bloody well, closing a $2.6 million series B funding round this month, with an impressive list of investors including International Airlines Group, JetBlue Ventures and Qantas Ventures.

Basically, their technology sorts overflow from overbooked flights onto different flights so airlines wouldn’t be positioned to oversell in the first place, rather than forcing airlines to handle re-bookings manually.

The start-up also offers solutions to a variety of other problems faced by airlines.

“With Volantio, we see real opportunities to support our customers while helping JetBlue manage irregular operations better,” Bonny Simi, president of JetBlue’s venture capital arm told Bloomberg.

JetBlue’s strict policy against overbooking means they have little use for Volantio’s main function, but the carrier uses the technology to solve other problems, like sudden aircraft swaps or cancellations caused by weather.

Research by CHOICE found 21 per cent of Australians have experienced flight delays or cancellations and four per cent of those were asked to leave because of overbooking.

While overbooking is totally legal, it’s a huge source of customer dissatisfaction.

So for a start-up to offer airlines a solution to these issues is pretty huge.

Do you have something to say on this? Get in touch with Travel Weekly Editor Daisy Doctor here to share your thoughts.

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