Impressive: Delta Only Denied Boarding To 9 Passengers In 2019

Delta Air Lines had a fantastic 2019. The Atlanta-based carrier shined on a number of metrics ranging from flight delays to bumping an incredibly low number of passengers. These accomplishments also shone through as Delta recorded some astonishing financial results for 2019.

Impressive: Delta Only Denied Boarding To 9 Passengers In 2019
Delta Air Lines shined in 2019. Photo: Airbus

The Wall Street Journal ranked nine American airlines based on a number of metrics. Delta topped the list when it came to on-time arrivals, cancellations, and denied boarding. However, one of the most impressive statistics was Delta’s impressively low number of denied boardings in 2019.

Bumped passengers

Despite offering basic economy and overselling some flights, Delta denied boarding to only nine passengers in 2019. On the other hand, American’s numbers crossed 15,000. United reported 107 passengers were denied boarding in 2019.

Delta planes atlanta
Delta only bumped nine passengers in 2019. Photo: Jay Singh – Simple Flying

Delta Airlines does an amazing job of incentivizing passengers. In the case where flights are oversold, Delta offers a variety of different compensation offers for passengers to take later flights.

For those with flexible travel plans, Delta’s compensation offers can be well worth the wait. Having seen this on several flights in 2019, Delta’s gate agents are well equipped to handle and incentivize passengers. This, undoubtedly, reduced the number of denied boardings in 2019.

While American’s numbers are a bit staggering, the airline also reported that it had to swap out some aircraft due to the 737 MAX crisis. Some of these aircraft ended up being smaller in passenger capacity than the 737 MAX which led to some increased numbers of passengers denied boarding.

American Airlines 737 MAX
American Airlines reported some aircraft swaps due to the 737 MAX grounding which led to an increased number of passengers denied boarding. Photo: Getty Images

But, that was not the only part of Delta’s 2019 operations that was impressive.

On-time arrivals

Delta improved its on-time arrivals statistics in 2019. Over 84% of Delta’s flights arrived on time. For an airline with over 900 aircraft (according to Planespotters), this is one impressive metric. This is even more impressive as Delta operates some older aircraft including Boeing 767s and 757s alongside the well-used McDonnell Douglas MD-80s and MD-90s.

Delta MD80 90
The MD-series are some of the oldest aircraft in Delta’s fleet. Photo: Jay Singh – Simple Flying

As a Delta frequent flier, this statistic does not surprise me. Delta is one of the better airlines in the United States when it comes to on-time performance. Although the airline adds a bit more padding to its flight schedules, Delta has also invested in a significant number of operations-related and technological improvements. This includes running a sophisticated operations center that tracks weather and allows the airline to plan ahead.


Across Delta’s network, including Delta Connection regional partners, cancellations for 2019 notched in at 0.7% of all flights. Southwest Airlines reported 2.5% of flights across the system being canceled. Although, some of that resolved after the airline announced a new maintenance contract with mechanics.

Delta mainline flights logged 281 cancellation-free days. Considering flights operated by both Delta and regional partners totaled 165 cancellation-free days. In 2018, Delta had 251 mainline cancellation-free days and 143 across Delta Connection and mainline flights.

Delta planes at JFK
Delta maintained 281 mainline cancellation-free days in 2019. Photo: Getty Images

Delta did not face many operational crunches such as the sudden grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX. Still, Delta flew more flights and more passengers in 2019 than 2018 and managed to improve operations.

It is also worth noting that Delta did not face some of the stumbles of other carriers. American Airlines had to contend with disruptions from a labor dispute with mechanics. However, as the summer season ended and American received some welcome court news, operations at the airline significantly improved. In fact, one-third of the last 45 days of 2019 saw zero American mainline cancellations.


Despite running a large operation, Delta continues to prove that it is one of the top airlines in the United States. Denying only 9 passengers boarding in 2019 while the nearest large airline, United, crossed 100 passengers is incredible. Now, the real test is how Delta can maintain or else improve in 2020.

What do you make of Delta’s operations in 2019? Let us know in the comments!