Politicians in Washington and elsewhere have called for a ban on overselling flights. Some critics have said airlines should leave a few seats empty if they think they will be needed by crew members.
JetBlue is currently the only major U.S. airline with a stated policy that bans overbooking. United said Thursday that it plans to reduce overbooking but not eliminate it entirely.
Dallas-based Southwest did not put a time frame on the policy change. And Kelly noted that Southwest may still need to bump people if, for instance, the airline substitutes a smaller plane for the one originally scheduled, which happens occasionally.
Kelly was asked on an earnings conference call if the move could impact Southwest's results. He said ending overbooking would have a minor impact on revenue but gave no figures.
Chief Financial Officer Tammy Romo said doing away with overbooking would reduce costs — airlines compensate passengers for giving up their seats — which would offset some of the revenue hit.