Transportation Secretary Peter Buttigieg has received backlash for his response to the ongoing airline meltdown that resulted in thousands being stranded on Christmas.
The criticism had come after Buttigieg promised that DoT would resolve the travel issues by the holidays.
Speaking on The Late Late Show with James Corden in September, Buttigieg reassured viewers that the Department had placed pressure on airlines following catastrophic travel experiences in the summer that made airfare expensive and travel chaotic.
At the time, Buttigieg claimed that he believed the situation would “get better by the holidays.”
He added that the administration had been “pressing the airlines to deliver better service.”
Buttigieg also relayed that he had been canceled and delayed several times over the summer.
Buttigieg asserted that if airlines were selling tickets, they should be “ready to service the tickets.”
The Transportation Secretary noted that should travelers have been “mistreated by an airline,” hadn’t received a refund, or an airline hadn’t “lived up to their customer service obligations,” the Department of Transportation would assist.
Buttigieg explained that the Department had gone from zero of the ten major airlines to eight of the ten airlines agreeing to provide a hotel or meal.
But that optimistic tone changed this week when Buttigieg demanded Southwest Airlines compensate passengers — including meals, travel, and lodging — for their thousands of canceled flights over the holidays.
The lack of service from airlines drew criticism from both sides of the aisle.
Speaking on Hannity, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) asserted the Department of Transport audited Southwest airlines to ascertain how the airline used taxpayer-funded relief.
Nina Turner, the co-chair of Independent Senator Bernie Sanders’ 2020 Presidential campaign, blamed the issues experienced on “railroads, airlines & the supply chain” as the product of “a small city mayor being made the Secretary of Transportation.”