Saturday, September 09, 2000

Delta gets you there, but slowly

Fewer are bumped, yet delays continue

By Amy Higgins
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        If you flew Delta Air Lines earlier this year, you stood the lowest chance of getting bumped from your flight — but still only a mediocre chance of getting to your destination on time.

        In the latest round of monthly airline statistics, released by the Department of Transportation on Thursday, Delta bumped the lowest proportion of its passengers — 952 of 27 million, or 0.35 per 10,000 passengers — among major airlines from April to June.

        The ranking was a significant improvement for Delta, which 15 months ago was bumping 10 times as many ticket-holders from their flights — almost as many as the nine other major carriers combined.

        Airlines overbook flights because, historically, 10-15 percent of passengers are no-shows.

        Bumping passengers means the airlines played the odds and lost by having more people show up than the statistics said should have shown. During April to June, Delta still overbooked the most, but it also had the most passengers — almost 70,000 — voluntarily give up their seats.

        Delta spokeswoman Cindi Kurczewski said Delta moved up in the ranks largely because of internal communication improvements. Delta gate agents now have more flexibility and more tools in offering incentives for voluntary bumping. If not enough people give up their seats, passengers are denied boarding on a first-come, first-served basis.

        The same report shows that Delta improved its on-time performance during July — but not as much as Continental and Southwest airlines.

        Despite improving from 73.6 percent to 76.1 percent on-time, Delta fell from second to fourth in overall rankings, also behind Northwest.

        “There still were weather factors,” Ms. Kurczewski said. “Summer overall has been a challenge.”

        On average of all major airline flights, seven of 10 in July were on-time, slightly higher than the June average.


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