Following the infamous United Airlines incident in which a passenger was violently wrenched from his seat on an overbooked flight last spring, bumping rates on United States carriers fell to its lowest levels in decades in 2017.
According to new figures released by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), U.S. airlines posted a bumping rate of 0.34 per 10,000 passengers in 2017, the lowest annual rate since 1995. The previous low was 0.62 in 2016.
The decline follows a particularly turbulent year in air travel in 2017. Video footage captured by fellow passengers aboard a United Airlines flight in which Dr. David Dao was violently dragged out of his seat, caused a worldwide uproar, prompting airlines around the world to revise their bumping and overbooking policies.
The Canadian government also introduced a proposal to ban bumping on commercial flights as part of a newly updated passenger bill of rights soon after the incident.
Meanwhile, the DOT’s Air Travel Consumer Report also provided new figures on incidents involving animals, this year’s hot in-flight topic.
Peacocks and hamsters
In 2017, U.S. carriers reported 24 animal deaths, injuries to 15 other animals and one lost animal, for a total of 40 incidents, down from 48 in 2016.
In recent weeks, United and Delta Air Lines released new policies tightening the rules for support animals, following a dramatic rise of in-flight incidents involving animals urinating, defecating or attacking other passengers.
Last month, a woman tried to board a United Airlines flight with her emotional support animal, Dexter the Peacock, on a flight out of New Jersey.
This week’s outrageous in-flight animal story involves a college student who flushed her emotional support hamster down the airport toilet after being denied boarding. She claims she did so at the suggestion of a Spirit Airlines employee.
Overall, nearly 507,000 animals were transported by airlines in 2017, at rate of 0.79 incidents per 10,000 animals transported, down from 0.92 incidents per 10,000 animals transported in 2016.
Meanwhile, in 2017 the department also received 98 complaints filed under racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual discrimination, marking an increase from 95 complaints filed in 2016.
In October, civil rights group the NAACP released a travel advisory that warned black travelers against flying American Airlines, following what they called a pattern of disturbing incidents that showed disrespectful, discriminatory bias against African-American passengers.
The travel advisory is still in effect. JB