Complaints and Bumping Trending Higher
The latest statistics continue a trend for U.S. based airlines of bumping more passengers as they cut their capacity.
In 2011, the industry bumped 0.78 passengers per 10,000 travelers. Last year, the rate edged higher to .97 passengers bumped.
While the rate seems low, those who track the industry noted involuntary denied boardings are becoming more common and are growing into a larger issue for airlines. Carriers looking to maximize a profit have long made it a practice to oversell flights. They say the overbooking of flights is necessary because a certain percentage of flyers cancel trips or change their travel plans at the last minute.
Airlines say they can't afford to waste potential revenue and leave seats empty, so they overbook flights. As carriers have cut their schedules and shifted to smaller planes for many routes, they have little wiggle room when flights are cancelled due to weather, mechanical problems, or other last minute issues.
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The bottom line: there are often more people booked than seats available.
Meanwhile, customer complaints about airline service are also trending higher. In 2011, the Department of Transportation recorded 1.19 complaints per 100,000 passengers. Last year, the rate of complaints jumped to 1.43 per 100,000 passengers.
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March on-time arrivals slip
The Department of Transportation also reported March on-time arrivals edged lower compared to a year ago. In March, 79.8 percent of flights were on-time, down 2.4 percent from March of 2012.