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Study: The Airlines Most Likely To Bump Passengers

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. 

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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. 

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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