Airlines’ Involuntary Bump Rates Are Dropping

Nov 18, 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.

Getting bumped from a flight can be very lucrative for a passenger when it’s voluntary. Delta shelled out $4,000 to one passenger willing to catch a flight only nine hours later, while United now asks travelers to name their price.

Sounds pretty sweet. But lately, the need for bumping has declined — both voluntary and involuntary.

According to Reuters, a report released on Thursday from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) reveals that airlines in the United States are not having to bump as many passengers on overbooked flights as they were during the same time period last year. The numbers show the rate of involuntary passenger bumping among the 12 largest U.S. carriers “fell to 0.15 per 10,000 passengers in the three months ended Sept. 30 — the lowest quarterly rate dating back to 1995.”

As for those who are willing to give up a seat to score some extra cash? Reuters reports voluntary bumping is on the decline, too. The total number of passengers bumped fell from 114,119 to 74,358 compared to the same three-month period this time last year.

These recent findings most likely stem from the United incident involving Dr. David Dao, the passenger who was dragged down the aisle of a plane in Chicago after refusing to give up his seat on an overbooked flight back in April.

United later began offering as much as $10,000 for passengers to voluntarily give up their seats while cutting down the “involuntarily bumping rate by more than 90 percent.”

Other airlines have followed suit including Delta, who not only offers a staggering maximum incentive of $9,950, but according to the DOT report had the lowest bump rate of its competitors, from 306 passengers (from this period last year) down to just 29 in the three months ending September 30.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, 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®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • 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
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% 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.