Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg is facing intense scrutiny by many on the left after widespread delays and cancellations by Southwest Airlines over Christmas weekend and this week, The Hill reports.
“We’ve never seen a situation, at least not on my watch, with this volume of disruptions, so this is going to take an extraordinary level of effort by Southwest,” Buttigieg stated during an interview earlier this week. “And we will mount an extraordinary effort to make sure that they’re meeting their obligations.”
Many left-wingers are indicating they are disappointed with Buttigieg for not doing more to alleviate the situation.
“Buttigieg needs to make clear that he has the authority to go after the airlines for unfair and deceptive practices,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) said to The Prospect Thursday. “He needs to lay out a framework for what the consequences will be for canceled flights, understaffing, and misrepresentations to passengers.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) weighed in on the matter as well, posting about the incident Wednesday.
Southwest's flight delays & cancellations are beyond unacceptable. This is a company that got a $7 billion taxpayer bailout & will be handing out $428 million in dividends to their wealthy shareholders. @USDOT must hold Southwest's CEO accountable for his greed and incompetence.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) December 29, 2022
David Sirota, who serves as editor of the political magazine Jacobin, chided federal officials who, “cannot take action to protect consumers, even as airlines have benefited from billions of dollars of government support, and even as federal regulators have refused to use their power.”
“We also request that Secretary Buttigieg impose fines on airlines that delay or cancel flights for reasons that have nothing to do with weather,” he added. “Secretary Buttigieg must also use his existing power to make sure airlines provide full and prompt refunds when they cancel flights.”
A spokesperson from the Department of Transportation reportedly told the Hill that the agency “has issued the largest fines in the history of the consumer protection office this year — helping to get hundreds of thousands of people hundreds of millions of dollars back.”
The transportation secretary claims he contacted the CEO of Southwest Airlines to communicate his “expectation” that they “go above and beyond to take care of passengers” who were affected by the delays and cancellations.
Pete Buttigieg: "I conveyed to the [Southwest Airlines] CEO our expectation that they are going to go above and beyond to take care of passengers and address this." pic.twitter.com/yiwqLldbtp
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) December 28, 2022
Buttigieg has additionally urged those who have not been properly compensated for missed fights to file a complaint with the DOT.