Nearly 200 Pax Show Up For 144-Seat AI Flight

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

A mysterious glitch in Air India's reservation system caused a flight to be overbooked by 50 pax, causing chaos at check-in.

In all, 194 passengers turned up with bookings for flight AI 731 from Kolkata to Guwahati, even though a 144-seat Airbus A 319 aircraft is used on the route.

That left 50 'bumped' passengers angry and mystified, while the airline admitted it was just as perplexed.

An airline official said: "It was an unprecedented situation. We do have 2-3% overbookings but it was 31% on the Kolkata-Guwahati flight. The passengers were justifiably furious and we didn't have any explanation to offer. An error seems to have occurred in the reservation system."

Instead of displaying that the flight was full once 144 tickets had been sold, it continued to accept reservations. Thus, 194 passengers turned up for the flight."

The snafu caused angry scenes at the airport with the unlucky 50 passengers eventually accommodated overnight in a hotel and rebooked for flights the following day.

"The prospect of an error like this creeping into an international flight is frightening. The airline can get sued by passengers. We are trying to identify the cause and rectify it at the earliest. Officials at the headquarters in Delhi have already been alerted and they are investigating the case," a second AI official said.

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