PHOTO: United isn't actually the most prolific involuntary passenger-remover. (photo courtesy of Thinkstock)
Despite scrutiny in the wake of the well-publicized dragging incident on a recent United Airlines flight, it turns out the embattled carrier isn't even the worst offender when it comes to denied boarding.
In fact, United is closer to being the best rather than the worst, according to new statistics from the US Department of Transportation.
But that is tempered by the fact that one of its regional carriers is indeed the worst.
The publicity from the incident, of course, has made United a Public Enemy No. 1 in the minds of many. On the final evening flight of an April 9 trip from Chicago to Louisville, United seated its passengers on the plane but realized shortly thereafter it needed four seats to move four crew members to Louisville in order to have employees in place for assignments the next morning.
That led to forced rebooking, with four passengers being randomly chosen. One included Dr. David Dao, who refused and was physically removed from the flight, bloodied as he was dragged up the aisle by Chicago Aviation Police to the horror of fellow passengers.
The video of the incident quickly went viral, sparking nationwide outrage at United.
READ MORE: United CEO Calls Incident ‘Watershed Moment’
Yet, the airline is actually middle of the pack when it comes to involuntary bumping. The DOT released its fourth quarter stats from October to December for 12 US airlines, and United was only seventh on the list.
The rankings are in inverse order, meaning Hawaiian Airlines with its lowest rate of denied boardings was the best at No. 12. The worst, at No. 1, was regional carrier ExpressJet Airlines, which services smaller hubs for both United and Delta Air Lines.
Here is the complete list:
12. Hawaiian Airlines
11. Virgin America
10. Delta Airlines
9. Spirit Airlines
8. Alaska Airlines
7. United Airlines
6. Frontier Airlines
5. American Airlines
4. Southwest Airlines
3. Skywest Airlines
2. JetBlue Airlines
1. ExpressJet Airlines
Perception is the current enemy of reality for United, but it's also clear they have tangible work to do with their subsidiaries and short order. Any sort of ExpressJet snafu that boils over could be disastrous for the embattled parent company these days.