Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said there were fewer flight cancellations over the July Fourth weekend compared to Memorial Day, but cancellations remained at “elevated levels.”
He also said the stories he is hearing from passengers are “unacceptable.”
Buttigieg reminded passengers via Twitter that airlines must offer cash refunds for canceled flights. He also encouraged consumers to report airlines that violate feder federal policy.
If they fail to do so, let us know at:https://t.co/V7aIX9I86t
— Secretary Pete Buttigieg (@SecretaryPete) July 5, 2022
Transportation Security Administration data shows that air travel has returned to pre-pandemic levels. Last Friday, TSA screened nearly 2.5 million passengers, marking its busiest day since February 2020.
Although airlines have said air traffic control staffing has contributed to higher levels of cancelations, Buttigieg said staffing has not contributed to most delays.
“A number of the issues have seen related to airlines, letting airline pilots or pushing airline pilots into early retirement,” Buttigieg said on CNBC’s “Power Lunch.” “I think that is sort of a frustration from the public because a lot of lots of tax-payer money went to the airlines precisely in order to keep people on the job in order to keep those airlines running in a resilient way.”
Last week, Sen. Bernie Sanders proposed airlines be fined $55,000 per passenger when a flight is canceled due to staffing shortages. Buttigieg said he had not looked into Sanders’ proposal.
"Given all of the generous taxpayer support that has been provided to the airline industry, all of us have a responsibility to make sure that passengers and crew members are treated with respect, not contempt,” Sanders said.