I understand that airlines oversell seats as a hedge against passengers that cancel or do not show up to flights. But when you think about it, the concept of overselling — that is, when that announcement comes over the PA at the gate feigning a degree of surprise that a “flight has been overbooked” — is kind of ridiculous. I mean, an aircraft has X number of seats, and thus it sells a maximum of X number of tickets. Easy.
Yet overselling is the leading cause for passengers getting bumped from flights — and tens of thousands of passengers are bumped, either voluntarily or involuntarily, every year.
What’s the airline on which you’re most likely to get bumped? That would be Atlantic Southeast Airlines, which bumped 22,982 people last year voluntarily (and another 3,610 involuntarily), according to a recently released report from the US Department of Transportation’s Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings.
Here’s how 18 domestic airlines rank in terms of bumping passengers. JetBlue is clearly the best of the bunch. What’s its secret?
If you wonder why some farther down the list have larger bump numbers than others at the list’s top, the OAEP ranks the airlines in terms of bumps per 10,000 passengers. Atlantic Southwest had 9.3 million passengers last year, for a bump rate of 3.89 passengers for every 10,000. US Airways had a lot more bumps, but also 82.2 million passengers last year.
- Atlantic Southwest Airlines (22,982 voluntary / 3,610 involuntary)
- Comair (13,461 / 1,909)
- American Eagle (7,103 / 2,184)
- Pinnacle Airlines (6,572 / 1,540)
- Delta (62,243 / 10,403)
- Continental (37,825 / 5,671)
- Mesa Airlines (25,048 / 1,355)
- US Airways (85,001 / 7,205)
- SkyWest (34,155 / 2,090)
- United (92,624 / 6,812)
- Southwest (73,403 / 10,362)
- Frontier (4,436 / 983)
- Northwest (48,473 / 3,027)
- American Airlines (56,649 / 5,568)
- Alaska Airlines (8,128 / 983)
- AirTran (8,128 / 834)
- Hawaiian Airlines (317 / 54)
- JetBlue (58 / 22)