The Southwest Airlines travel fiasco appeared to resolve Friday, with just a few dozen flights offline after several days of pandemonium that led to a nationwide uproar and finger-pointing in Washington.
With many accusing him of having failed to prepare, embattled Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg sent a stern letter to Southwest Airlines on the “unacceptable” meltdown.
Southwest Airlines fiasco resolved
Buttigieg — whose boss all but encouraged Americans to shun relatives who refused the COVID vaccine last Christmas — blasted Southwest for separating customers from their loved ones.
Without a hint of irony, he wrote, “No amount of financial compensation can fully make up for passengers who missed moments with their families that they can never get back — Christmas, birthdays, weddings, and other special events.”
Thousands of flights were canceled over the course of a few agonizing days for Southwest travelers stranded at airports. Things finally seemed to calm down Friday, when just a few dozen flights were canceled, a modest disruption compared to the nightmare of previous days.
The chaos has been attributed to the airline’s scheduling technology being unable to handle a historic winter storm that crippled travel nationwide through the Christmas weekend. The airline has apologized profusely.
“There’s just no way almost to apologize enough because we love our customers, we love our people and we really impacted their plans,” CEO Robert Jordan said.
Did Buttigieg blow it?
While the Biden administration has promised to hold Southwest “accountable,” Republicans, and even some Democrats, are none too impressed with the response from Buttigieg. Republican Nancy Mace (Sc.), whose travel plans were disrupted, dismissed his letter as “just paper.”
Far-left actress Susan Sarandon has also weighed in, saying of Buttigieg, “I guess being smart doesn’t necessarily make you practical.”
Buttigieg was warned about airlines shafting customers months ago, even as he reassured Americans that travel would “get better by the holidays.”
As recently as December 16 he was urged by state attorneys general to “impose significant fines for cancellations and extended delays that are not weather-related or otherwise unavoidable.”
As the Biden administration looks to deflect, there is also an investigation underway in the Senate Commerce Committee as many question what happened to billions of dollars that Southwest received from Congress in COVID bailout money.
Holiday travel was also heavily impacted last Christmas, although not to this incredible extent, by the omicron variant panic, which led to thousands of canceled flights at various airlines.
Is this the “normalcy” Biden promised?