US airlines put on notice

By Scoop
June 21, 2022 · less than 3 min read

Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg may start putting the boot into airlines as punishment for heavy delays.

Not a happy Buttigieg

If you or someone you know has taken a flight lately, chances are it hasn’t been particularly smooth running. In the past few weeks, major disruptions have taken hold of airlines across the US, with delays and cancellations fast becoming the norm. More than 2,500 flights were cancelled across the country over Memorial Day weekend in May. So yeah, things are bad.

Of course, flying is rarely a perfect experience. But at this point, pretty much everyone is losing patience. And while the court of public opinion can be pretty damning – particularly on social media – there’s one person in particular you probably don’t want to piss off: The transport secretary. And hey, guess what? Pete Buttigieg is not happy.

The bad books

Buttigieg’s own flight between Washington and New York was cancelled last week, and the following day explained that it could be time for some serious action: “That is happening to a lot of people, and that is exactly why we are paying close attention here to what can be done and how to make sure that the airlines are delivering.” Wuh oh.

So, just how hard is this slap on the wrist going to sting for airlines? If things go south over the Fourth of July, and consumer-protection standards aren’t met, it could be painful. The Department of Transportation could choose to take enforcement action similar to the $2 million fine issued to Air Canada back in 2021.

More than 6,000 flights were cancelled between Friday and Saturday alone, leaving many passengers left stranded. It’s been a tough couple of years for airlines, and if Pete comes down hard, things could get a whole lot tougher.

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