What is 'AIRMAGEDDON'? Flailing Pete Buttigieg slammed by Dems as air travel descends into chaos

Leading figures in Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg's own party slammed him or failing to stop the 'airmageddon' flight hell


                            What is 'AIRMAGEDDON'? Flailing Pete Buttigieg slammed by Dems as air travel descends into chaos
Bernie Sanders (R) and Ro Khanna (L) have called out Pete Buttigieg (C) (Anna Moneymaker, Drew Angerer, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
ADVERTISEMENT

As travel chaos continued through the Fourth of July weekend, leading figures in Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg's own party slammed him or failing to stop the 'airmageddon' flight hell. Over the last few days, the US prepared for what many are referring to as 'airmageddon', with travelers bracing for a possible meltdown at airlines, airports and security and customs checkpoints, and also hotels and hotel services. During the busiest holiday weekend since the coronavirus pandemic began, over 312 flights were canceled and 4,378 were delayed by Sunday evening, July 3.

ADVERTISEMENT

Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Ro Khanna of California both urged Buttigieg to take action ahead of the holiday weekend, letters sent out by them last week revealed. Sanders demanded that airlines be required to refund passengers for flights delayed more than an hour. Sanders also demanded that airlines impose fines of a rate of $55,000 per passenger for flights that are delayed for more than two hours, and fines for airlines that cannot "properly staff" scheduled flights.

ADVERTISEMENT

READ MORE

Pete Buttigieg's urge for hope met with silence draws comparisons with Jeb Bush's similar blunder from 2016

What did Pete Buttigieg do in the US Navy? A look at transportation secretary nominee's time in the military

ADVERTISEMENT

However, as travel chaos took a horrid turn over the weekend, Sanders took to social media to blast Buttigieg. "The airlines got $54 billion in taxpayer money. They said thanks by jacking up ticket prices 45% & stranding passengers at crowded airports. Enough. It's time for the Transportation Department to impose massive fines on poor-performing airlines & full refunds for long delays," Sanders wrote on Twitter. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Pete Buttigieg (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

ADVERTISEMENT


 

United Airlines canceled 55 flights and delayed 314 by Sunday evening, July 3. Delta canceled 53 flights and delayed 433, American Airlines canceled 29 and delayed 533, and JetBlue canceled just six and delayed 270.

Travelers line up to check in for United Airlines flights at San Francisco International Airport on July 01, 2022 in San Francisco, California(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

ADVERTISEMENT

Sanders called for action from Buttigieg ahead of the holiday weekend, asking his supporters in an email to urge President Joe Biden's administration to "take action to reduce flight cancellations and delays", according to the Daily Mail. "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," Sanders 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."

ADVERTISEMENT

Bernie Sanders (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Rep. Khanna, who serves on the House Oversight Committee and is deputy whip of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, also wrote to Buttigieg. "The Department's incremental response so far has been lacking the urgency, imagination, and boldness to meet the moment and needs of the American people," he wrote. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Khanna told The American Prospect, "Buttigieg needs to make clear that he has the authority to go after the airlines for unfair and deceptive practices. He needs to lay out a framework for what the consequences will be for canceled flights, understaffing, and misrepresentations to passengers."

ADVERTISEMENT

Ro Khanna (Photo by Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, in a series of tweets, Buttigieg asked Americans to claim compensation over the canceled flights. "Sometimes an airline will offer you points or miles as compensation, but you are entitled to a cash refund when your flight is canceled. When deciding whether to accept miles, it’s helpful to know their value, which varies, but often is estimated at 1 to 1.5 cents per mile," he wrote in a tweet. "For example, my connecting flight got canceled last night. At first, the airline offered 2500 miles, which I estimate is worth about 30 bucks. But I claimed the refund for the canceled portion instead, and it worked out to be $112.07," he added another. A separate tweet in the thread reads, "Airlines offer miles as compensation for some travel issues, and you can often negotiate on this. That’s between you and the airline. But you are entitled to cash refunds for canceled flights - that’s a requirement that we will continue to enforce."

ADVERTISEMENT



 


ADVERTISEMENT


 



 

Earlier this month, Buttigieg had said that airlines will have to figure out and resolve the issues by July 4, so that travelers can have a smooth holiday. When the head of the trade group Airlines for America blamed the FAA for delays, Buttigieg said, "The majority of cancellations and the majority of delays have nothing to do with air traffic control staffing." However, amid the chaos, many have demanded that Buttigieg do something worthwhile rather than give out advice on how to get compensation. 

ADVERTISEMENT