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Rate of Bumping on Airlines Drops to Record Low

by Megan Hill

Mar 29, 2018

© Sirayot Bunhlong | Dreamstime.com

Feature

After United Airlines made headlines for dragging a passenger off a plane, U.S. airlines bumped the fewest passengers on record, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The DOT’s Air Travel Consumer Report showed a bumping rate of 0.34 per 10,000 passengers in 2017, the lowest yearly rate since records started in 1995. The previous low was 0.62 in 2016.

The new figures don’t include passengers who accepted travel vouchers or other offers to voluntarily give up their seats on overbooked flights. Airlines use these strategies to lower bump rates.

Overall, things are improving: Airlines have also done a better job when it comes to mishandling bags. In 2017, U.S. airlines had a mishandled bag rate of 2.46 per 1,000 passengers, an improvement over the 2016 rate of 2.70.

On-time performance is mixed depending on which airline is studied. The best were United Airlines (84.6 percent on-time arrivals); Delta Air Lines (83.5 percent on-time arrivals); and Alaska Airlines (83.4 percent on-time arrivals). At the bottom were JetBlue, Frontier Airlines and ExpressJet Airlines, with on-time arrival rates of 74.1 percent, 75.8 percent and 76.4 percent, respectively.

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