These U.S. Airlines ‘Bump’ the Most Passengers

Check all travel options before booking with these airlines.

When travelers are booking flights, there are lots of things that go into choosing which flights to take.

Pricing is the top driver for many travelers. Price is ‘king’, but with different flight options that have similar pricing, the next two things many travelers consider is travel duration and flight times. Depending on the itinerary and purpose of the flights, it could change which airline the traveler books.

Business travelers don’t necessarily look at price, but instead look at timing of the flights to correspond with work-related itinerary. Since the employer or a client might be paying for the travel, the best timing for the flight may be the most important factor when booking.

Travelers, who are parents, may look at price first because they are buying more tickets for the family, but the actual time to leave and arrival time may still be a factor not wanting to be in an airport with a young child at 10 p.m. Also, the duration of travel, if a direct flight is available at a higher cost than one with a layover, depending on how the child or children, travel could be the decision factor.

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What Happens if a Flight is Oversold?

When a flight is oversold, if some passengers have not yet checked in, or were late at checking in, it is likely those will be the first passengers not permitted on the flight. Travelers have to play by the rules and checking in and on time is one of those rules.

If everyone played by the same rules and the flight was oversold, the protocol is to first ask passengers with flexibility in their travel plans to volunteer, and the airline will usually compensate the volunteers. 

A business traveler is less likely to volunteer to change their flight to their destination but may on their way back from their work trip, but not if the company is paying for the trip, because more airline tickets isn’t very enticing to someone who travels a lot already, but cash is always nice.

A family traveling with young kids is also not very likely to drag their travel out any longer than absolutely necessary, risking the travel going sour with unhappy little travelers. There is very little in the amount of money that will console young travelers or their parents during the unplanned extended travel.

What Happens When No One Volunteers?

If no one volunteers, the airlines are left with the difficult decision to bump a passenger or passengers. If someone has not checked in, that passenger would likely be bumped, as they have not reserved their spot completely by checking in. 

Compensation for a bumped passenger under Department of Transportation regulations requires airlines to compensate bumped travelers four times the one-way ticket price all the way up to $1,550, when the change in flights creates more than a two-hour delay in the travelers itinerary.

Frontier Airways  (ULCC) – Get Frontier Group Holdings Inc. Report does not make the top five for the number of flights around the U.S. each day but is ranked first out of eight airlines for the likelihood of bumping a passenger involuntarily, while Southwest Airlines  (LUV) – Get Southwest Airlines Company Report is ranked No. 3 for the number of daily flights and second for possibility of involuntarily bumping a passenger.

Spirit Airlines  (SAVE) – Get Spirit Airlines Inc. Report does not make the top five for number of flights and is ranked third for probability of a passenger being involuntarily denied boarding. American Airlines  (AAL) – Get American Airlines Group Inc. Report, first in number of daily flights, is ranked fourth for being most likely to bump a passenger involuntarily.

Alaska Airlines  (ALK) – Get Alaska Air Group Inc. Report is ranked No. 5 for the most flights daily and also ranked fifth for passengers being involuntarily denied boarding, while JetBlue Airways  (JBLU) – Get JetBlue Airways Corporation Report is ranked sixth for being likely to bump a passenger. 

United Airlines  (UAL) – Get United Airlines Holdings Inc. Report is ranked seventh for likelihood of passengers being involuntarily bumped, and Delta Airlines  (DAL) – Get Delta Air Lines Inc. Report, with the second most daily flights, is ranked eighth for likelihood of passengers being involuntarily bumped.

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