Austin, Texas-based travel company Upgraded Points recently pored over data released by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics to examine the year-over-year change in both voluntary and involuntary denied boarding (IDB) from the top U.S. airlines to determine which have the highest rates of bumped passengers.
Frontier Airlines leads the way when it comes to the highest IDBs based on passengers bumped and overall volume of passengers, bumping 6.28 passengers per 100,000.
Frontier's fellow ultra-low-cost carrier, Spirit Airlines ranks second-worst, bumping 5.57 passengers per 100,000. However, Spirit had a higher number of overall IDBs for 2018 (1,529 total).
Alaska Airlines (2.30 IDBs per 100,000), regional carrier PSA Airlines (2.29 IDBs per 100,000) and American Airlines (1.95 IDBs per 100,000) round out the top five, albeit at much lower rates than Frontier and Spirit, which were found to be around two times as likely to bump passengers compared to the remaining three airlines in the top five.
American's 2,614 total IDBs were the most of any U.S. airline last year. Nonetheless, the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier's volume of enplaned passengers was nearly seven times that of Frontier.
"Airline bumps are a common concern feared by many passengers," said Upgraded Points founder Alex Miller, in a statement. "So, we thought it would be a good idea to look at just how often it actually happens, and which of the airlines were the biggest culprits. Airline bumps are just a part of the reality of air travel; we all accept that risk whenever we buy our tickets.”
“But our study found that there are statistically higher chances of bumps with certain airlines over others. And that's good information for travelers to have before they purchase their tickets this holiday season,” Miller added.
Delta Air Lines is the most reliable U.S. airline when it comes to bumping passengers (0.02 IDBs per 100,000), reporting just 22 IDBs despite a volume of more than 138 million enplaned passengers last year.
While U.S. airlines have made significant progress on the issue since rates peaked in 2016 and early 2017, the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX since March prompted an influx of overbooking resulting in nearly a doubled rate of bumps in the first half of 2019.