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Flight cancelled? Pete Buttigieg urges airlines to step up their game


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

Vin McNamee/Getty Images

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Vin McNamee/Getty Images

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

Vin 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 own flight, scheduled for Friday, has been cancelled.

On Friday morning, he received a flight alert on his phone after he had just practically met with national airline executives about their chronic operational problems Thursday night.

“I thought it was beautiful,” Buttigieg told NPR. “It illustrates what millions of passengers are excited about right now.”

Buttijig’s flight was one of about 1,400 flights that were canceled on Friday, according to a flight-tracking website. Flight Aware. This is in addition to more than 1,700 flights canceled on Thursday.

Airlines have struggled to meet the huge surge in air travel demand this summer. A shortage of manpower, especially among pilots, has left many airlines with little room to maneuver in the event of problems, especially bad weather.

But in a meeting with the airline’s CEO, Buttigieg told them they “have to make sure their schedules first and foremost reflect the realities of some of the staffing challenges they’re facing.”

“These airlines have received a lot of public support to try to keep the system resilient,” Buttigieg told NPR, referring to the $54 billion in pandemic relief. “And now we’re reaching out to them to make sure their operations are reliable and, importantly, that in the event of failures or delays…they call someone on the phone and reach out to customer support to help deal with it.” .

Buttigieg said he pressed airline executives to detail what actions they are taking to ensure smooth operations ahead of the busy Fourth of July holiday.

“I have received a lot of reassurance about the steps they are taking and I know that all the measures that airlines can take are taken very seriously,” Buttigieg said. “On the other hand, I’m in a car now and not on a plane because we weren’t able to take off as planned, so these crashes continue to be a concern.”

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