Mace demands Buttigieg audit Southwest, says they shouldn’t get billions if they can’t handle luggage

Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) hammered Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for writing a lame, ineffectual letter to Southwest Airlines after this week’s meltdown that canceled thousands of flights and stranded Americans during the Christmas holiday.

(Video Credit: Fox News)

Appearing on “Fox & Friends First” Friday, Mace asserted the letter “really is nothing. It’s just paper at this point.”

Then she called for an audit because tracking luggage and flights simply should not be that difficult in 2022. She also pointed out that the airline was gifted $7 billion by the Biden administration in pandemic relief funds to bail them out in 2020 and flatly stated this isn’t “rocket science.”

“I’m sure a letter really scared the CEO of Southwest Airlines. That really is nothing. It’s just paper at this point. And Southwest Airlines was given a $7 billion bailout by the American taxpayers during COVID. I’d like a full accounting of that. Because if you can’t keep track of luggage and you’re an airline, how do you think the American people could trust for you to take — and keep track of the $7 billion that we gave you? It’s ridiculous,” she bluntly stated.

“We’ve got to get to the bottom of it. What I want to hear Pete Buttigieg say, sooner rather than later, is that he’s going to audit that $7 billion and get a full accounting for the American people on where that money went,” Mace continued.

This isn’t as difficult as it would seem, especially this day and age when the technology is there. Why aren’t they using it? Why haven’t they upgraded their systems? And why are they treating consumers this way?” she demanded.

She was personally affected by Southwest’s cancellations. Her children were stranded in Baltimore traveling home for Christmas. They ultimately made it home because Mace spoke with Capitol police who helped find a key to a car she has there which her children used to drive home. Their luggage, however, is still missing a week later.

“We were up very late Saturday night like everybody else — trying to find flights, trying to find a rental car, trying to find train tickets to get my family home and nothing was available for 4-5 days,” Mace recounted.

Mace sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. She says that Congress should play a role in overseeing transportation too, but noted too much government intervention could be seen as overregulation and may drive up consumer prices.

A better solution, in her opinion, would be for the industry to update its policies and programs. She then listed some of the ways Southwest chose to handle the situation.

“Originally it was they were only going to refund your ticket for weather-related cancellations, and they’ve changed that this week, thankfully, that they will refund all tickets between now and the end of the year, which they should do,” Mace commented.

Buttigieg wrote in his letter to Southwest that it is “critical” that the airline reimburse passengers.

“No amount of financial compensation can fully make up for passengers who missed moments with their families that they can never get back — Christmas, birthdays, weddings, and other special events,” he said. “That’s why it is so critical for Southwest to begin by reimbursing passengers for those costs that can be measured in dollars and cents.”

Southwest Airlines CEO Bob Jordan announced that flights would operate on a normal schedule beginning Friday.

“There’s no greater focus beyond safety than taking care of our customers,” he said in a statement. “We’re offering refunds, covering expenses. We’ll be going back out with even more after that.”

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