United Airlines Inc. is quietly unveiling a new technology platform that it will use to manage the problem of oversold flights—and, in the same breath, turn them into a profit opportunity.
With the help of its new Flex-Schedule Program, the airline is piloting a way to buck the trend of involuntary bumping—the term for kicking passengers off oversold flights—without necessarily offering four-figure payouts to passengers at the gate, or curbing their practice of overselling inventory. (The airline suffered a publicity black eye earlier this year when police dragged a man off an overbooked plane, and has since promised to offer high-price rewards to fliers who agree to change flights at the last minute.)
Instead, it’ll simply offer buyouts earlier—up to five days in advance. The upside for United? The chance to resell your ticket at a wider profit margin.