Bottom Line Inc

The Bumpiest Airlines

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As a rule of thumb, there tends to be more overbooking—and opportunities to be bumped—on flights frequented by business travelers than on flights catering mainly to leisure travelers. That’s because business travelers are much more likely to change their travel plans at the last minute. Example: A flight to Cancun or Hawaii is less likely to be overbooked than a flight feeding a big hub city such as Atlanta or Chicago.

Overbooking—and voluntary bumping rates—also vary significantly from airline to airline. At least two airlines, JetBlue and Southwest, have stopped overbooking entirely. Here’s a look at the 2016 voluntary bump rates of the other domestic airlines (per 10,000 passengers)…

  • Delta …10.0
  • United …7.2
  • Spirit …5.4
  • American …4.1
  • Virgin America …3.0
  • Alaska …2.9
  • Frontier …1.4
  • Hawaiian …0.3

Overbooking occurs on foreign carriers as well, but the rates at which it happens are not tracked as reliably.

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Source: Brian Karimzad, director of MileCards.com, which recently conducted an analysis of airline overbooking rates. Date: August 1, 2017 Publication: Bottom Line Personal
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