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Delta, Southwest and United Flyers Most Likely to Get Bumped

Delta, Southwest and United Flyers Most Likely to Get Bumped
Joe Cortez

Data analysis from 2010 suggests all three carriers bump over seven of every 100,000 passengers

Flyers who are hoping to get to their destination quickly and without fully booked flights may want to consider not buying a ticket aboard Delta Air Lines, United Airlines or Southwest Airlines in the near future. The Chicago Tribune reports a recent data analysis suggests the two airlines bumped over seven flyers per 100,000 who board with the carrier.

The data comes from the Department of Transportation and was analyzed between 2010 and 2016. After reviewing the data for flyers voluntarily and involuntarily denied boarding, both Delta and Southwest had the most passengers bumped per total flyers. Delta lead the group with an average of 10.1 passengers bumped per 100,000 over the last six years, with United and Southwest virtually tied for second with just over seven passengers bumped per 100,000. The bump rate is over two-times more than smaller competitor JetBlue and low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines.

While passengers who get bumped are entitled to compensation, how that gets actualized is different. Those who are involuntarily bumped may receive a cash payout, while those who volunteer to leave often walk away with a travel voucher for their seat. For those who are willing to take a later flight, researchers believe volunteering for a bump may be the best way to survive a delay.

Both Delta and United offered defenses of their ticketing and boarding processes to the Tribune in light of the report. While United said bumping was “rarely” due to overbooking, Delta explained there was a delicate balance in how passengers are accommodated.

“Boarding flights is a delicate balance of filling available seats and meeting the needs of customers on the rare occasion when we do not accommodate them as originally scheduled,” Delta spokesperson Anthony Black told the Chicago Tribune.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (5)

5 Comments

  1. rylan

    April 4, 2017 at 4:14 am

    I don’t consider it a major issue if airlines are getting volunteers to take alternate routing. Its the IDB – involuntarily denied boarding that is ugly, when they are overbooked and can’t get enough volunteers. Airlines also try to avoid that as it costs them a lot more and is reported differently to the DOT.

    The only overall problem with heavily booked flights is that is leaves little wiggle room for rebookings in case of flight disruptions due to weather etc.

  2. emcampbe

    April 4, 2017 at 6:25 am

    I highly doubt most are considering bump rates when choosing a carrier. Should they, really?

    Even using Delta’s rate of 10.1 passengers per 100,000, which is the highest listed, that equals .0001% of their passengers. Hardly something worth being a even minor part of the consideration set. Keeping that number in context, there is also probably a high season, so to speak, around the holiday times (Christmas/New Years and Thanksgiving), probably chances are lower during other parts of the year. And given this seems to include voluntary and involuntary rates, seems at least some of these bumped passengers are ok with it (I know a family who typically vacationed in FL during the end of December holidays, and actually looked for these opportunities – doing it 3 or 4 times on these packed vacationer flights a year).

    Sorry, I do understand when folks get IDB’d, its not pleasant. But the fact is its pretty unlikely to happen. As a frequent flyer, over the last several years, I have taken a VDB once, and in addition, can count the number of times I’ve even seen them need volunteers/IDBs on one hand.

  3. pfpdx

    April 4, 2017 at 7:30 am

    Ok. While they bumped more, this is quite an exaggeration. “Flyers who are hoping to get to their destination quickly and without fully booked flights may want to consider not buying a ticket aboard Delta Air Lines, United Airlines or Southwest Airlines in the near future. The Chicago Tribune reports a recent data analysis suggests the two airlines bumped over seven flyers per 100,000 who board with the carrier.” You are talking about a .007% of getting bumped.

    More so many flyers including myself like the better chance of scoring a VDB.

  4. ramonortiz55

    April 4, 2017 at 10:42 am

    7 – 10 Bumped Passengers per 100,000…

    Those odds are pretty good.

    No need to change your preferred airline over this statistic.

  5. TravelwhileyouEat

    April 5, 2017 at 5:51 am

    7 to 10 (including volunteers) out of 100,000 is not bad at all… and sometimes the need is real for these airlines that the compensation for volunteering can be worthwhile (especially if the next flight out is only 2-3 hours later).

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