Airlines are bumping passengers at the lowest rate on record according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The agency, which first began tracking involuntary denied boarding rates in 1995, reported that U.S. carriers denied boarding at a rate of 0.44 fliers per 10,000 passengers between April and June. That’s well below 0.62 per 10,000 passengers reported for the previous quarter. The previous lowest record had been set in 2002 (0.50 per 10,000).
United Airlines Bumps Way Down
A United spokesman provided the following startling stats–
- April IDBs – 957
- May IDBs – 61
- June IDBs – 46
If you recall, the Dao incident occurred during the second week in April.
Is that remarkable restraint in inventory management or fruits of the new denied boarding protocol?
Recall that United will now offer passengers compensation up to $10,000 for giving up a seat, an exponential increase over the prior ~$600-800 upper limit (usually much lower).
> Read More: United Airlines Reveals Major Policy Changes
Southwest No Longer Oversells Flights / JetBlue Never Did
Southwest announced in May that it would no longer oversell flights. Nevertheless, it reported a bump rate of 0.64 per 10,000 passengers from April – June 2017. Last year during the same period, the rate was 1.07.
JetBlue proudly claims it has never oversold a flight since its inception. Its IDB rate fell from 0.91 during the April – June quarter in 2016 to 0.04 this year. Why a rate above zero if it never oversells? Aircraft swaps.
The numbers in the D.O.T. reports reflect rare instances when our larger A321 aircraft were changed to smaller aircraft to accommodate unplanned operational needs.
Overselling flights keeps fares low. I’m thankful that some airlines continue to (conservatively) oversell. But I am also heartened to see such a stark reduction in IDBs, especially at United. It appears the Dao incident may be responsible.