Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Myth of Getting Bumped

jetBlue is the IDB champ with only one IDB per 140,629 passengers (Jan. - June 2006).
Photo Credit: Joe Popp

Since I started blogging I’ve taken an interest in reading other travel-themed blogs, especially those that dispense advice. I’ve been surprised to see one topic covered exhaustively: the issue of getting bumped from a flight. The precise term of art is Involuntary Denied Boarding (IDB) and it describes the situation where a passenger holding a ticket for a flight is not allowed to fly (against their wishes) because the airline has overbooked.

The experts go on at great length talking about the airlines’ Contract of Carriage, their obligations under Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations etc. Apparently this is a topic that people are very interested in.

It’s an unreasonable fear. Passengers are seldom denied boarding against their will. It’s never happened to me, my family, my friends, or any of my clients. In fact, because airlines are required to report Involuntary Denied Boardings to the DOT the actual statistics are available for review.

During the first six months of 2006, 1.22 passengers were denied boarding involuntarily for every 10,000 passengers. If that statistic held true in the future, you could fly every day for twenty years before it happened to you. In 2005, the same period resulted in 0.97 IDBs per 10,000 passengers.

We all know that airlines routinely overbook flights – if there’s a problem it’s usually handled through voluntary denied boarding. That’s where passengers volunteer to skip the flight for a later one in return for some kind of compensation like a free ticket or cash. I’m one of those people who hope it will happen so I can get the free ticket. How do you think I took my family on vacation this year anyhow?

So don’t worry about getting bumped, it probably won’t ever happen to you. Worry about something realistic – like weather-related flight delays – but that’s another post…

No comments:

Add to Google

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.