It is a cliche to say that where transacting does not occur there will be conflict -- even violence. Everyone has now seen the United Airlines thugs doing their thing on a recent domestic flight. Economists (notably Julian Simon) have long suggested that silent auctions would be much better. ("Please go to our website and ..." ) The usual suspects however want more and better regulations (oxymoron?) -- such as a ban on overbooking.
A better antidote (also from Econ 101) is more competition. That can easily be accomplished. International airlines that have already landed at a U.S. airport are banned from picking up passengers and ferrying them to the next U.S. destination. The ban is pure crony capitalism and should be lifted. Most other countries have no such ban.
Part of the stand-up comedy by airline attendants is when they say "we know you have a choice ...". How about many more choices?
"Thugs" was the wrong descriptor. Uniformed law enforcement people find themselves in impossible cluster situations (such as the one described) all the time.
Timothy Taylor has a short discussion of Julian Simon's thoughts on using auctions to clear an overbooking problem.