Despite Scandals, a Record Number of Passengers Flew United in June

Jul 13, 2017

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United’s spring was rocked with scandals — from BumpGate, LeggingsGate and ScorpionGate to SundaeGateRantGate and TobaccoGate. All of these incidents left a lot of flyers taking to social media to swear off the airline. However, numbers can tell a whole different story, so we’ve been keeping a close eye on United’s traffic releases.

In May, the airline posted an impressive 79% drop in involuntary denied boardings with strong traffic. But, June’s numbers are even better — more than 13.5 million passengers boarded a United flight last month. Based on TPG analysis, that’s the most passengers the PR-beleaguered airline has carried — since at least the beginning of 2014.

However, this hasn’t been from filling up aircraft. In fact, United’s loads (the percentage of seats filled with passengers) was the lowest it’s been in years. Instead, United is fueling this passenger growth through massive expansion in available seat miles. On just its mainline domestic routes, United had a whopping 10.8% more capacity in June 2017 compared with a year prior.

Other numbers that stand out in June’s report: United completed 99.5% of its scheduled flights, “only” canceling 0.5%. But, United’s on-time departure rate was quite poor. Only 64.5% of United’s flights departed by the scheduled departure time. Mind you, this doesn’t mean that the flights ended up being late. Between schedule padding (scheduling flights longer than they should take) and the 14-minute grace period that the FAA allows for “on time” arrivals, 78.6% of United’s flights were deemed to arrive on-time. This put United second behind operational-powerhouse Delta.

Were you one of the 13.5 million who flew United in June?

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