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Good News for Flyers – Less Bumping, Fewer Lost Bags

A good-news travel story? Yes!

There’s been precious little for U.S. air travelers to celebrate in recent years, as the airlines have squeezed passengers into ever-smaller seats and imposed ever-more niggling fees for everything under the sun.

The latest report from the DOT’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, therefore, is a rare glimmer of good news against a decidedly bad-news backdrop.

According to the November “Air Travel Consumer Report,” released today, third-quarter incidents of involuntary denied boarding—bumping, in other words—reached their lowest level since 1995, at 0.15 incidents per 10,000 passengers.

The bumping rate was also the lowest since 1995 for the first nine months of 2017, at 0.39 incidents per 10,000 passengers.

The airlines’ mishandled-bag performance was also significantly improved. For September, the mishandled-bag rate was 1.99 reports per 1,000 passengers, the lowest monthly rate since DOT started collecting mishandled baggage report data in September 1987.

The news wasn’t all good, of course. September 2017 complaints about airline service spiked 21.0 percent over the September 2016 levels, and complaints for the first nine months of 2017 were up 3.8 percent over the same period last year.

Reader Reality Check

Is the overall flight experience improving or getting worse?

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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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