Airlines Are Bumping Far Fewer People From Flights

Paterniano Del Favero
Agosto 9, 2017

In the first half of 2017, airlines involuntarily bumped passengers at the lowest rate in over a decade, according to newly released data from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

It looks like all those news reports of passengers being bumped from flights and/or physically assaulted and dragged off the plane, have had a positive effect for everyone else: the number of customers being bumped from overbooked flights is now at the lowest point it's been at in 20 years.

The improvement came amid the worldwide firestorm of publicity in April, when United Airlines had a passenger dragged off a full flight in Chicago.

Of the 12 major US air carriers who report statistics on the bumping of passengers, the DOT said the numbers dropped for the first half of this year from the same time in 2016, with a rate of.52 per 10,000 passengers bumped. That rate has since gone down for the second quarter of 2017 to 0.44 per 10,000 passengers.

That's the lowest rate since the government started keeping track in 1995.

On April 9, a Vietnamese-American doctor was violently removed from his seat on an overbooked United Airlines flight by aviation policemen at Chicago O'Hare International Airport, to give seats to crew members, which sparked wide-spread criticism on social media.

United CEO Oscar Munoz apologized soon after on "Good Morning America".

"This will never happen again", Munoz said.

After the series of incidents, a few airlines - including United - changed some of their customer service policies. Delta Air Lines matched that amount.

Airlines also reported a lower rate of mishandled baggage - 2.65 reports per 1,000 passengers in June, down from June 2016's rate of 2.82. Over the years, it has not been uncommon for airlines to sell more tickets than they have seats.

Congress held hearings about the incident and threatened legislation.

The department has launched an airline passenger website to make it easy for travelers to understand their rights.

In its report released Tuesday, the Department of Transportation also reported on-time performances for this year.

The department is investigating six tarmac delays of at least three hours for domestic flights and two for delays of at least four hours for global flights, which can bring fines against an airline.

Airlines were less punctual in June, with 76.2% of flights arriving within 15 minutes of their schedules. More than 177 million passengers flew on the 12 largest airlines during the most recent three months.

Of the 12 airlines required to report data to the department, a total of 7,764 people were involuntarily denied seats in the April-June period, according to the records. In addition, 1.09 percent of flights were canceled and 0.26 percent were diverted.

Incidents involving animals: In June, there were three incidents involving the death, injury or loss of an animal while traveling by air, down from the six reports filed in June of previous year, but up from the one report filed in May.

Airlines reported the death of one animal and injuries to two others during June.

The carriers canceled 1.1 percent of their scheduled domestic flights this June, up from the 1 percent cancellation rate in June 2016 and the 0.8 percent rate in May.

Consumer complaints about US airlines ticked up 3 percent to 1,115 in June.

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.

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