Buttigieg under continued scrutiny over Southwest Airlines issues

 January 6, 2023

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was grilled over problems at Southwest Airlines over the holidays but claimed he's not in charge of their system.

Buttigieg shared the response during a Thursday interview on Fox News' "Special Report."

The comments

“Now, what we do, again, I don’t run Southwest Airlines, but I do regulate them. And so, what we’re doing right now is using the full force of this department to make sure customers get taken care of," Buttigieg said.

"I made clear to Southwest Airlines that they will be required by our department — and by the way, this is something that wouldn’t have been possible before the work we did this summer — they are now required to cover lodging, to cover ground expenses, to cover hotels for these delays and cancellations that were their responsibility," he added.

Failure to respond?

A separate report noted Buttigieg's failure to respond to thousands of complaints from airline travelers.

"In an Aug. 31 letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (R-Calif.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the AGs of 38 states, territories and the District of Columbia, said the DOT was leaving a 'vacuum of oversight' that 'allows airlines to mistreat consumers and leaves consumers without effective redress,'" the New York Post reported.

"The letter, which was resurfaced this week by the left-wing outlet The Lever, went on to ask Congress to take the authority to investigate customer complaints about airlines away from the Transportation Department and give it 'to an agency more primarily focused on consumer protection' — suggesting the Department of Justice or the Federal Trade Commission," it added.

Buttigieg has called out Southwest Airlines in a letter, but the action is too little for most Americans impacted.

Thousands of travelers were stranded at airports over the holidays as the airline canceled thousands of flights. More than 1,000 people slept in the Denver Airport on Dec. 26 after being stranded.

Southwest Airlines claims that it is back to normal operations now but that doesn't mean much to travelers from last month.

Instead, Buttigieg and major airlines need a real plan to make things right and make sure future flight situations are handled better.

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