As thousands of Americans face flight delays and cancellations heading into the Fourth of July weekend, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has put Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on blast and called on his supporters to demand the Biden administration take “action.”
Sanders supporters received an email on Friday in which the former presidential candidate targeted Buttigieg over delays, cancellations, and high ticket prices and baggage fees, according to Fox News.
As BizPac Review reported Saturday, more than 400 holiday flights have been canceled, with more than 4,000 flights delayed. So bad is the situation that Delta’s president offered a public apology to customers along with an offer reportedly of up to $10,000 to appease passengers who have been bumped from their overbooked flights.
While the airlines would like to blame the weather, many believe the crisis is the result of a pilot shortage created when the airlines fired those who declined the COVID-19 vaccine.
Couple that with the skyrocketing cost of tickets, brought on by a 56% increase in fuel costs, and the airports are in chaos as 47.9 million Americans travel for Independence Day festivities.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) July 2, 2022
Buttigieg has been the subject of Sanders’ criticism all week.
On Tuesday, Sanders sent the floundering Transportation Sec. a letter demanding some value for the billions that taxpayers have contributed to solving the airlines’ problems.
“Both Sanders and Buttigieg competed for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 presidential election, and questions have begun swirling whether the pair may face off against one another again in 2024,” Fox News noted.
Either way, Sanders isn’t pulling his punches.
The airline industry got $50 billion in taxpayer money in its time of need. What did Americans get in return? Disruptions, delays, and cancellations. pic.twitter.com/XfBffNeAGP
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) July 1, 2022
“All over this country, airline passengers are growing increasingly frustrated by the massive increase in flight delays, cancellations, and outrageously high prices they are forced to pay for tickets, checked bags and other fees,” he wrote. “Thousands of flight disruptions have left passengers and crew members stranded at crowded airports from one end of the country to the other forcing them to miss weddings, funerals, and business meetings and ruining family vacations that have been planned for months in advance.”
“I am writing today to urge you to take immediate action to substantially reduce the number of airline cancellations and delays in our country and to protect the rights of airline passengers throughout our nations,” the Senator stated, adding that so far this year, “one out of every five flights in the United States were delayed, while airlines are canceling flights four times as often on high-travel weekends than they did in 2019.”
“Perhaps most shocking is recent allegations from the American Airlines pilots’ union that airlines are intentionally scheduling flights they can’t staff due to a pilot shortage,” he continued. “That is simply unacceptable.”
As potential solutions, Sanders urged Buttigieg to require passenger refunds from airlines for flights that are more than an hour late, impose fines on airlines whose flights are more than two hours past due. Additional fines should be doled out to those airlines that cannot “properly staff” their scheduled flights.
“Let’s be clear,” Sanders told Buttigieg. “During the pandemic, when air travel came to a near halt, U.S. taxpayers came to the rescue and gave $54 billion to the airline industry. The top eight airlines alone received nearly $50 billion in taxpayer assistance from the federal government.”
“Given all of the generous taxpayer support that has been provided to the airline industry,” Sanders wrote, “all of us have a responsibility to make sure that passengers and crew members are treated with respect, not contempt.”
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