Involuntary Denied Boardings Plummet After United Changes Policy

Jun 7, 2017

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

This morning United released its operational performance for May. While this report is typically a snooze-fest for travelers, two stats jumped out: Involuntary denied boardings have plummeted 79% and United’s passenger count continues to grow.

First, about the drop in involuntary bookings, the president of United (Scott Kirby) notes:

We’re seeing initial progress following our customer-focused policy changes, with involuntary denied boardings down 79 percent year-over-year in May. We will continue to build on this momentum as we head into the busy summer travel season.

United isn’t releasing stats on the number of passengers still being denied boarding for either month. However, we know that United denied 3,765 passengers in all of 2016. A 79% overall drop would mean an average of just two passengers denied boarding per day, down from an average of about 10 a day in 2016.

And, by the “customer-focused policy changes,” he’s referencing the changes United made to its policies in late-April in the wake of the high-profile United 3411 incident. This includes increasing the amount of compensation offered to avoid involuntary denied boarding and committing to never remove passengers who have boarded an aircraft in an overbooking situation.

It seems — despite BumpGate, LeggingsGate, ScorpionGate, SundaeGate, TobaccoGate, RantGate and all of the promises on social media from those that say they’ll never fly United again — United is still getting plenty of passengers to “Fly the Friendly Skies.”

12.6 million passengers took to the skies on United in May — the first full month since the Dr. Dao incident. This compares with 12.1 million in April and 12.2 million in May 2016.

With that said, United’s planes have been a bit emptier. Only 81.6% of seats were filled with passengers in May 2017 vs. 82.5% in May 2016. So, how is United flying more passengers? Growth. United increased its number of seat-miles available by almost 4%, driven more by domestic growth (4.7%) than international growth (2.4%).

Featured image courtesy of Getty Images.

Have you sworn off United after the controversies?

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.