With Thanksgiving just a few days away it is rather unnerving to read that American Airlines has bumped more passengers in 2019 than all other U.S. Airlines combined. Like rival airlines, Dallas based American Airlines has had to grapple with the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX but it is a bitter labor dispute that has caused it the most problems.
During the summer American Airlines bumped 3,400 passengers
So far this year American Airlines have denied boarding to thousands of their customers at an industry-leading rate. During the peak summer travel season from July to September, American Airlines denied boarding to 3,400 passengers. According to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation, this number was more than all the other U.S. airlines combined.
During the summer period Southwest Airlines bumped 314 passengers, United Airlines bumped 15 and Atlanta based Delta Air Lines did not bump any. In fact, for 2019 Delta has only bumped six passengers from all of its flights.
Now with the busy Thanksgiving holiday upon travel experts are predicting the busiest travel day ever on December 1st. When speaking to The Dallas Morning News air travel analyst Henry Harteveldt said,
“One reason they are bumping is a function of delays and cancellations. It’s the chaotic situation that exists at American.”
When confronted with questions about the airline’s excessive need to bump passengers, American Airlines spokesman Ross Feinstein confirmed what we already said earlier, laying most of the blame on the mechanics union.
“We definitely want to drive down the number of involuntary denied boarding’s since we know it has an impact on our customers,” he said.
Why do passengers get bumped?
Firstly airlines like to fly with full planes as it makes flights more profitable. One way they try to achieve this is by overselling the seats on the assumption that some passengers won’t show up or will cancel.
If a flight is canceled due to a mechanical issue or bad weather, these passengers must now be accommodated on other flights that may also be fully booked. There have even been cases where passengers were bumped so that pilots and flight attendants could get to a flight that had to work on somewhere else.
In many cases, when it is not urgent for a passenger to be somewhere at a certain time, they will give up their seats for cash, flight upgrades or air miles.
When we look at why Delta’s numbers are low compared to American Airlines, we automatically assume it is because they do not have any grounded Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. While that on its own might be a little help, the real reason Delta does not have the bump numbers like American is that it gets more people to volunteer.
What Delta does is offer passengers vouchers that are worth hundreds of dollars on the assumption that someone will always give up their seat if the reward they are getting warrants the inconvenience.
Something the overall statistics don’t show unless you look carefully is that twice as many passengers get bumped on American regional airlines than on mainstream flights.
Smaller regional aircraft are more likely to get canceled due to weather and are more susceptible to weight and balance problems caused by excessive cargo or changes in the temperature.
If you are bumped for a flight that is overbooked, you are entitled to compensation of up to 200% of the cost of a one-way ticket up to a maximum amount of $675. If you are bumped from a flight for more than two hours the compensation goes up to 400% with a maximum payout of $1,350.
If you are going to be traveling over the Thanksgiving weekend get to the airport early and remember just like you everyone is trying to get home for the holiday, so don’t stress out and enjoy your flight.