Remember all that horribly negative publicity that the airlines endured earlier this year after a United passenger, Dr. David Dao, was forcibly pulled from his seat and dragged off the aircraft, sustaining serious injuries?
Apparently the ensuing public debate and the reforms adopted by major carriers after that incident are having a big impact: New government figures show that the number of passengers subjected to “involuntary denied boarding” on U.S. carriers has nosedived to record lows.
In its latest Air Travel Consumer Report, just released this week, the Transportation Department said that the bumping rate for U.S. carriers in the third quarter of this year was 0.15 per 10,000 passengers – “the lowest quarterly rate based on historical data dating back to 1995.”
That’s a drop of 66 percent from the second quarter of this year, and a decline of 78 percent from the third quarter of 2016.
Looking at individual airlines, the biggest drop in the bumping rate for the third quarter of 2017 vs. a year earlier was at JetBlue, down from 1.47 per 10,000 passengers to just 0.02. United’s rate went from 0.46 last year to 0.04 in this year’s third quarter, while American’s fell from 0.64 to 0.09. And Delta who had the third best finish in the third quarter last year, moved up the chart to first place among the majors.
For the first nine months of 2017, DOT said, the bumping rate was 0.39 per 10,000 passengers, down from 0.65 for the same period a year earlier, and also a record low. The previous record low for January-September was 0.64 in 2002.
In the wake of that April dragging incident, major airlines vowed to offer significantly more compensation to entice passengers to give up their seats on overbooked flights.
And for some icing on the cake, DOT also said that in September of this year, the number of mishandled baggage reports was 1.99 incidents per 1,000 passengers. That’s down from 2.45 in August of this year, and is “the lowest monthly rate since DOT started collecting mishandled baggage report data in September 1987,” the agency said.