In unlikely fashion, a Biden official is actually getting backlash from both Republicans and Democrats. Earlier this year Bernie Sanders and Representative Ro Khanna penned a joint letter to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg expressing their discontent at the way in which the airline industry has been handling cancellation rates and delays.
Citing that “the top eight airlines alone received nearly $50 billion in taxpayer assistance from the federal government,” they strongly urged for changes to be made with regards to refunds for customers who have experienced delays over an hour, fines being imposed on airlines for flights that are delayed more than two hours and harsh fines of up to $55,000 per passenger for scheduling flights that are not properly staffed.
Two days later, on June 30th, Rep. Khanna wrote his own letter to Buttigieg focusing on the mass cancellations that had impacted many people in his district who were trying to travel for weddings, reunions, funerals and long-awaited vacations. He stated “Airports across the country are upending millions of Americans travel plans for weddings, reunions, funerals, long-awaited vacations, and other gatherings. The time to reign in the excesses of the airline industry and protect American travelers is now.”
Nearly six months ago @BernieSanders & I called for Buttigieg to implement fines & penalties on airlines for cancelling flights. Why were these recommendations not followed? This mess with Southwest could have been avoided. We need bold action. https://t.co/wVH4iAezfx
— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) December 29, 2022
The complaints about Buttigieg’s lack of response did not stop there. Four months ago a staggering 38 state attorneys general signed a letter accusing the Department of Transportation of having “failed to respond and provide appropriate recourse” concerning all these flight cancellations which began occurring during summertime 2020.
The letter further read “Americans are justifiably frustrated that federal government agencies charged with overseeing airline consumer protection are unable or unwilling to hold the airline industry accountable and to swiftly investigate complaints submitted to the US DOT,” adding that due to increased concentration within the airline industry as well as decreased levels of competition it is even more important for effective enforcement as far as consumer protection goes. The AGs then asked Congress to authorize them so they can deal with such issues on behalf of Buttigieg.
Southwest has canceled over 2,300 flights today; @USDOT Pete Buttigieg is under the spotlight after 38 attorneys general wrote a letter in August about their concerns and frustrations that the agency is "unable to hold airline companies accountable for irresponsible actions."
— Stephanie Myers (@_StephanieMyers) December 29, 2022
The attorneys general received thousands of complaints from airline passengers about airline customer service, prompting the AGs to write to congress. Link to the August letter below ??https://t.co/UOum4MymXx
— Stephanie Myers (@_StephanieMyers) December 29, 2022
Currently it is Buttigieg who oversees all issues regarding air travel however he has often been met with criticism due both from Democrats like Senators Sanders and Khana as well as Republicans alike with regards to his alleged incompetence when it comes down to protecting consumers from mistreatment by airlines as well as taking responsibility for investigating complaints. At times this criticism has also extended into mocking territory due his tendency of blaming much if not all problems on racism instead taking part in meaningful solutions.
This is incompetence. This is what placing unqualified people in positions of power to do the bidding of corporations will get you.
There is a direct line from Secretary Buttigeig to the Southwest Airlines debacle and we shouldn’t pretend there isn’t.
— Nina Turner (@ninaturner) December 28, 2022
Pete Buttigieg flies around on private jets while you’re stuck in an airport.
That’s the difference.
— Congressman Troy Nehls (@RepTroyNehls) December 28, 2022
Southwest Airlines has canceled nearly 5000 flights in the last two days. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg blames homophobia and systemic racism.#Southwest
— Larry Elder (@larryelder) December 30, 2022
Today Pete Buttigieg taught us that roads and bridges are racist. Yesterday Kamala told us trees are racist.
You realize the people in the Biden administration are mentally ill and Biden is a dementia afflicted pedophile, correct?
— Denlesks (@Denlesks) November 9, 2021
It is probably safe at this point then say that Pete Buttigieg’s tenure so far at the Department of Transportation has been one filled with controversy surrounded by requests from representatives on both sides of the political aisle urging him take action when it comes down providing refunds or imposing fines depending on delays or cancelations Airline companies may have caused during this pandemic riddled year we currently find ourselves in.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg has been facing bipartisan criticism over the Department of Transportation’s response to the 38 Attorneys General’s urgent demand for action months ago. The criticism comes as the Department of Transportation failed to provide a timely and effective response to the Attorneys General’s request for assistance. With the passage of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, the Department of Transportation needs to fix this stupid mess.