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Is airline overbooking putting contract law up in the air?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017 @ 8:48 AM | By Scott Rollwagen

Recent media coverage of problems encountered by airline passengers on overbooked flights has made contract law unusually relevant. Contract law is supposed to facilitate exchange by enforcing honest bargains. How can it be, the layperson asks, that a consumer who makes an honest bargain for a service can be unilaterally denied it?

The answer — paradoxically for the layperson — is contract law. Airline terms of service routinely reserve for the airline the flexibility to deal with overbooked flights. Most publicly available airline terms of service...