6 Bizarre Things More Likely to Happen Than Being Involuntarily Bumped Off an Overbooked United Airlines Flight

By now, you’ve probably seen the disturbing video of David Dao, a 69-year-old doctor, being dragged off the United Airlines flight. You’ve probably also stumbled across scores of stories about what your rights are as an airline passenger if you are denied boarding on an overbooked flight -- as well as updates on Dao’s plans to sue United. However, throughout this information overload, one stat specifically stood out to us.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, United reported denying boarding to 3,765 of its more than 86 million passengers (or approximately 1 in 22,841 passengers) on oversold flights in 2016, The New York Times reports. An additional 62,895 people voluntarily gave up their seats. So, according to United’s numbers, just how rare is it to be involuntarily bumped off one of its overbooked flights? Here are six unbelievable things that more likely to happen.

Photo courtesy of Tomás Del Coro via Flickr

Photo courtesy of Tomás Del Coro via Flickr

1. Getting struck by lightning in your lifetime.

According to the National Severe Storms Laboratory, the odds of being struck by lightning in your lifetime (assuming you live to 80 years) is roughly 1 in 3,000. That said, you have a .026 percent greater chance of being hit by a bolt of lightning than being forcefully bumped off an overbooked United flight.

2. Dying as an air traveler.

Believe it or not, your chance of dying in an air or space travel incident is also higher than being denied boarding on a jam-packed United Airlines vessel. According to the National Safety Council, your odds of death as an air traveler are about 1 in 9,821. 

3. Getting injured by a toilet.

Yes, even the probability of getting hurt by a toilet is greater than involuntarily getting the boot from an oversold United flight. According to National Geographic, the odds of being injured by a toilet is 1 in 10,000.

4. Drowning.

To put things in even more perspective, you are more likely to unintentionally drown (1 in 1,188 chance, according to the National Safety Council), too.

5. Being murdered today.

On any given day, you have a 1 in 19,000 chance of being murdered in the U.S., CNN reports

6. Winning an Oscar.

That’s right -- you also have more of a chance of winning an Academy Award. Given that you try, your chances of taking home a gold trophy is approximately 1 in 11,500, according to Forbes

Given that several members of our editorial staff have previously been involuntarily denied boarding on an airplane (and know others who have experienced a similar situation as well) it does make us wonder about the accuracy of the airlines’ self-reported data -- especially since we are all still waiting for our Oscars. 

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