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U.S. airlines bumped fewest passengers in 2 decades last year

By Daniel Uria
U.S. airlines bumped fewest passengers in 2 decades last year
U.S. Airlines reported the lowest rate of bumping passengers in decades in 2017, although a man was dragged off a United flight after being involuntarily bumped in April. File Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 8 (UPI) -- In 2017, U.S. airlines reported the lowest rate of "bumping" passengers due to oversold flights in decades, a Transportation Department report released Thursday indicates.

Airlines including United, Delta, JetBlue and others reported involuntary denied boarding to 0.34 passengers out of every 10,000, the lowest annual rate since the department began tracking data in 1995.

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The previous annual low was 0.62 in 2016.

Carriers also reported a quarterly bumping rate of 0.18 per 10,000 passengers for the fourth quarter of 2017, down from 0.55 from the same quarter in 2016.

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Despite the lower numbers in 2017, the practice of denying boarding came under criticism inn April when Chicago Police Department officers dragged a man out of his seat on a United Airlines plane. The flight from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport to Louisville, Ky., was overbooked.

The airline selected four passengers to be bumped in exchange for compensation after no passengers volunteered, but the man named David Dao -- who other passengers described as a doctor -- refused to forfeit his seat.

After police said they "asked several times, politely" for him to exit the plane, he was physically removed from the flight and left bloodied.

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Following the incident, United made a change to its policy and began asking passengers days in advance if they would consider being bumped from a flight in exchange for a travel voucher.

United was among the three airlines with the lowest rate of bumping in 2017, denying 0.23 passengers for every 10,000.

It still bumped more than twice as many passengers than Hawaiian Airlines at .09 and Delta at .05.

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