The Airlines Most Likely to Bump Passengers

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The practice of bumping passengers from flights – sometimes called involuntary denied boarding (IDB) – has been drawing increased attention in recent years, and so Upgraded Points has released a new study on the airlines most likely to bump passengers from flights. The study is based on data by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), and it examines the year-over-year change in both voluntary and involuntary denied boardings from the top U.S. airlines to see which have the highest number of bumped passengers. These numbers represent the number o IDBs per 100,000 passengers per airline. 

The U.S. airlines most likely to bump passengers are:

  1. Frontier Airlines – 6.28 bumps per 100,000 passengers
  2. Spirit Airlines – 5.57 bumps per 100,000 passengers
  3. Alaska Airlines – 2.30 bumps per 100,000 passengers
  4. PSA Airlines – 2.29 bumps per 100,000 passengers
  5. American Airlines – 1.95 bumps per 100,000 passengers

Other key insights from the report: American Airlines and Southwest Airlines both had the highest total number of bumped passengers, although, because both airlines have a high passenger volume, their ratio of IDBs is somewhat lower. 

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Additionally, getting bumped is becoming less common for airlines, according to the study. Bump rates peaked in 2016 and early 2017, although there was a significant drop in late 2017. With the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max in March 2019, however, there was a sudden influx of overbooking that almost doubled the bump rate for the first half of 2019. 

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