Airlines bump fewer passengers off flights

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Airlines are bumping fewer passengers off oversold planes after taking to heart the public anger over a man being violently dragged from his seat this year.

The U.S. Department of Transportation said Thursday that airlines bumped 2,745 passengers between July and September.

That is about one in every 67,000 passengers, and it is the lowest rate since the department started keeping track of bumping in 1995.

The rate has dropped steadily this year, especially since April when video surfaced of Chicago airport officers yanking a 69-year-old man off a United Express plane to make room for an airline employee.

Airlines responded by making changes, including raising the compensation paid to encourage passengers to voluntarily give up seats on oversold flights. But the number of volunteers who take cash or a travel voucher is also falling sharply — 74,358 in the July-through-September quarter, compared with 114,119 a year earlier.

Spirit Airlines was most likely to bump a passenger in the latest quarter, followed by Frontier and Southwest. Delta, Virgin America, JetBlue and United bumped no more than one in every 250,000 passengers, according to government figures.