Inspector Clouseau, the bumbler of the Pink Panther films a few years back, would talk about ‘buemps’ in the road, much to the consternation off the audience. Now, airlines in the States are talking about bumping, much to the consternation of their passengers. Because airline bumping, also known as denied boarding, is on the rise. The chances of properly ticketed passenger getting bumped from a flight worsened in the third quarter compared to the same period last year, according to the Department of Transportation. So far this year, involuntarily denied boarding reached a rate of 1.21 per 10,000 passengers, the worst in 13 years.
And among the bumpiest of carriers for the most recent period is United, which saw its number of passengers, bumped from overbooked flights going up by 50% during the July-September period from a year earlier to 23,109. Even though that’s less than one passenger per 10,000, and even though 95% of those bumped volunteered to take another flight, it’s a sharp rise. So the public radio station in United’s home town of Chicago called on a friend of yours to try to explain the situation. By clicking on the link, you can hear him explain that as airlines like United aggressively cut back on capacity to get their planes fuller, there will be fewer empty seats and so more bumpees.