May 23, 2018

Bumping by airlines drops to record low

10 August 2017, 12:23 | Kenneth Drake

Airline bumping rate in US lowest after Chicago airport incident

Airlines get the message: Passengers bumped from flights drops to lowest level in decades

According to the latest Air Travel Consumer Report released by the U.S. Department of Transportation, especially for the second quarter of 2017, the carriers posted a bumping rate of 4.4 per 100,000 passengers, the lowest quarterly rate based on historical data dating back to 1995.

After being scorned around the world, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz not only apologized publicly, he announced United would dramatically reduce how often it bumped passengers. The video of a bumped passenger being forcibly removed sparked outrage not only against United Airlines but the industry's practice of overselling flights and telling passengers there's no seat for them.

The Department of Transportation has also released a microsite to help passengers learn about their rights 35,000 feet up. One of the most memorable was in April when law enforcement dragged passenger David Dao off a United Airlines plane; he left with a broken nose and two missing teeth.

That figure was lower than the rate found during the same period past year, when 62 customers per million were booted, according to the department.

Congress held hearings about the incident and threatened legislation.

So what airline booted the most passengers? Hawaiian Airlines had the best rate, at 90.4 percent, and JetBlue Airways was the worst, at 60.6 percent.

Complaints about treatment of disabled passengers: The DOT received 77 disability-related complaints in June, down from both the 82 complaints received in June 2016 and the 78 received in May.

Cancellations averaged 1.1% of domestic flights in June, which was more than the 0.8% rate in May and the 1% rate for the same month a year earlier. Previously, the lowest quarterly rate was 50 per million from July to September 2002. Of all carriers, Spirit Airlines had the highest rate of cancellations, while Delta had the lowest.

An American Airlines flight from New Orleans to Chicago O'Hare International Airport on June 14 delayed 214 minutes on the tarmac at Chicago O'Hare, said the report. The three incidents compared to one report in May and six in June 2016.

Airlines have long sold more seats on flights than are actually available, in order to account for passengers who don't show up for flights. From January to June, the DOT received 9,026 consumer complaints, up nearly 8 percent from the total of 8,375 received during the first six months of 2016.

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