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Number of Bumped Travelers Hits All-Time Low

Good news: Fewer and fewer travelers are being bumped from flights. And according to the Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), it isn’t just fewer, it’s the fewest on record:

For the third quarter of 2017, the 12 U.S. carriers who report involuntary denied boarding, or bumping, data posted a bumping rate of 0.15 per 10,000 passengers, the lowest quarterly rate based on historical data dating back to 1995 and down from both the rate of 0.69 for the third quarter of 2016 and the previous lowest quarterly rate of 0.44 posted in the second quarter of 2017.

Not only that, but bumping is at record lows for the entire year, and almost half the rate it was in 2016.

Of course, involuntary bumping has been a prominent news story this year, thanks largely to the aggressive, controversial, and very involuntary removal of a United Airlines passenger several months ago. That story threw the practice of involuntary bumping into the limelight, though the issue has never been particularly widespread.

Most overbooking situations are solved through voluntary, compensated bumping. Many airlines have increased the incentives they offer to passengers in those situations, which is likely a key factor in bringing down the rate of involuntary bumping. United raised its maximum compensation to $10,000 following the aforementioned incident.

Passengers will likely never receive that full amount, but it shows that airlines recognize the gravity of the issue. Involuntary bumping is a customer experience nightmare and, as United showed, can quickly escalate into a PR disaster. So, while it may be largely an act of self-preservation, it’s a relief to see that airlines take this as seriously as they should.

Readers, have you ever been involuntarily bumped from a flight? Comment below.

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