U.S. Airlines Bumped Fewer People in 2017 After Dragging Incident

Travelers at LaGuardia Airport in New York.

Photographer: David Williams/Bloomberg

After months of controversy last year triggered by the forcible dragging of a doctor off a flight in Chicago, airlines significantly cut down on bumping passengers.

U.S. carriers recorded the fewest number of bumped passengers in 2017 since the government began collecting data on the practice in 1995, the Department of Transportation reported Thursday.

Last year there were 23,223 people who had tickets but were “denied boarding,” usually because the airline had overbooked the flight and didn’t have room for them, according to a DOT report on airline consumer issues. That is 0.34 percent of all passengers, and it’s almost half of the level in 2016, 0.62 percent.

Can Airlines Really Do That? Bumping and the Law: QuickTake Q&A

United Airlines, the carrier which insisted on removing a Kentucky doctor from a flight last April in Chicago, recorded the third best rate last year among U.S. airlines. It bumped 0.23 percent of its 93.8 million passengers, or 2,111 people, according to DOT.

After the United dragging case spawned public outrage, airline executives were called before Congress and lambasted.

Delta Air Lines had the lowest rate of all U.S. carriers, only 689 bumped passengers or 0.05 percent. Spirit Airlines Inc. was at the bottom of the list of 12 carriers that report data to the government. Spirit bumped 1,887 people or 0.82 percent.

READ MORE: Table Highlighting Involuntary Denied Boardings by Airline

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.