Flight canceled? Pete Buttigieg tells airlines to step up their game: NPR

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on April 28 in Washington, DC.

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Wayne McNamee / Getty Images

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on April 28 in Washington, DC.

Wayne McNamee / Getty Images

If you’re among the travelers whose flights have been delayed or canceled in recent weeks, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg knows your pain, because his scheduled flight for Friday was cancelled.

He received an alert on his phone on Friday morning about the flight, after he had just been practically met With the nation’s airline CEOs about their chronic operational problems Thursday night.

“I thought this was pretty on the nose,” Buttigieg told NPR. “It shows what millions of passengers are feeling right now.”

According to the flight tracking website, Buttigieg’s flight was one of nearly 1,400 US flights canceled on Friday FlightAware. This is in addition to the cancellation of more than 1,700 flights on Thursday.

Airlines were Struggle To meet the huge increase in demand for air travel this summer. Staff shortages, especially among pilots, have left many airlines with plenty of room for maneuver when problems arise, especially bad weather.

But in his meeting with the airline’s CEO, Buttigieg says he told them they should “make sure their schedules first reflect the facts of some of the hiring issues they’ve had.”

“These airlines have had a lot of public support for trying to keep the system resilient,” Buttigieg told NPR, referring to the $54 billion in pandemic relief. “And now we’re looking to them to make sure their operations are reliable, and most importantly, when there’s an outage or delay… they get someone on the phone and they get customer service to help work through it.”

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Buttigieg said he lobbied airline executives to provide details of the kinds of measures they’re taking to ensure operations run smoothly as the busy Fourth of July holiday approaches.

“I’ve had a lot of assurances about the steps they’re taking, and I know this is being taken very seriously when it comes to all the actions airlines can take,” Buttigieg said. “On the other hand, I’m now in a car instead of on a plane, because we weren’t able to get a flight as planned, so these disruptions are still a concern.”

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