Even before the recent air travel woes, Buttigieg has faced calls for a tougher stance against the national airline, which has received tens of billions of dollars in federal aid to assist its employees keep their jobs at the peak of the pandemic.
In letter to Mr. Buttigieg in June, Vermont independent Senator Bernie Sanders urged him to fantastic airlines $55,000 per passenger for every canceled flight they knew they were unable to staff and $15,000 per passenger for flights with long delays.
State attorneys general have also pushed for tighter oversight. In letter to congressional leaders in August, a bipartisan group of about three dozen attorney generals accused the Department of Transportation of failing to guard travelers and holding airlines accountable, saying a “oversight vacuum allows airlines to mistreat consumers.” The Attorney General, who said the problem was with the administrations of each parties, asked for laws authorizing them to implement consumer protection laws against airlines.
Representative Ro Khanna, a California Democrat, said Buttigieg should impose heavy financial penalties on carriers, much like how the Obama administration cracked down on passengers stranded on the runway.
“Just stating that customers should be reimbursed and that retroactive penalties will probably be imposed is essential but not enough,” said Khanna. “There needs to be a general fantastic for flight cancellations and lack of customer support, and there needs to be accountability for that.”
Sara Nelson, president of the Stewards Association-CWA, said Buttigieg inherited a department that was significantly underfunded and had many problems. She said he deserved credit for being in constant contact with aviation leaders and being the focus to solving problems after they arose.
“People see him getting involved in every issue and taking responsibility,” said Ms Nelson, “but that also opens him as much as criticism because not a day goes by that somebody doesn’t find fault with the airline industry.”