Involuntary Flight Bumping at Lowest Rate in Decades

Aug 9, 2017

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With this year’s nightmarish stories of doctors getting dragged off oversold planes and unaccompanied minors being left at the gate, it wouldn’t be crazy to assume that airline bumping is on the rise. But according to the Department of Transportation, that presumption is wrong. A new study released this month by the agency reveals that involuntary bumping is the lowest it has been in decades.

The DOT’s report looked at 12 different domestic carriers and found that only 0.52 of every 10,000 passengers were involuntarily denied boarding through the first half of 2017. That’s down from a rate of 0.62 during the same time period in 2016. The stats were even more impressive in the second quarter of 2017 when the involuntary bumping rate dropped to 0.44 passengers of every 10,000. The DOT reports that the previous record-low had been 0.50 passengers in 2002; the agency says it first began recording oversold flight statistics in 1995.

Even with the involuntary bumping rate hitting record lows, airlines still routinely overbook their flights. Through the first half of the year nearly 200,000 passengers were voluntarily bumped — many of them likely accepting some pretty sweet deals in return. If you play your cards right you could too, so be sure you’re up to snuff on your negotiating skills before your next flight.

Featured image of passengers on an oversold flight courtesy of Jeff Hutchens via Getty Images. 


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