WestJet doesn’t overbook

Overbooking (or also called overselling in airline terminology) is quite simply, selling more tickets than there are seats available for a particular flight. The practice came about as airlines found that a small percentage of passengers never showed for a flight and the flight would depart with not all of the seats occupied. With the volume of flights now filling our skies, the lost revenue for airlines because of these few empty seats can be substantial.

The flip side of this practice is that on occasion, everyone shows up and the flight now has more passengers than seats. On these increasingly frequent occasions, airlines are forced to provide incentives to displace passengers who are willing to delay or alter their travel plans. It’s not always pretty but airlines do it because it fills planes and maximizes revenue.

We started service in 1996 with a clean slate and the opportunity to do things differently. For example, since our inception, we have called our passengers, guests. It may be a small nuance but an important one for us. We want you to feel welcome throughout your travel journey with us.

What has become an important point of difference more recently is that we never intentionally oversell our flights.

There are certain occasions where we may find ourselves in an overbooked situation. As an example, we may need to switch to a smaller aircraft and we will find ourselves with more guests than seats available. Or, there may be a mechanical issue with a seat and we need to re-accommodate a guest.

In these cases, we work with our guests to provide as seamless a solution as possible, but we don’t intentionally oversell flights because we do believe you should get the seat you paid for. That’s why, if you read our tariffs or condition of carriage, the legal fine print associated with your ticket, we do in fact reference overbooking. As we’re on the topic, while we don’t oversell our flights, if you’re travelling with one of our codeshare partners, we encourage you to familiarize yourself with their terms of carriage.

It has been our philosophy that, if you book a seat, you should get a seat. It costs us more money in lost revenue but we believe that peace of mind is worth it when it comes to your travel plans. We hope you agree.