On Thursday’s broadcast of the Fox News Channel’s “Special Report,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg responded to a question on whether he was aware of the problems with Southwest Airlines’ technology prior to Christmas by stating he doesn’t run Southwest’s system, but he does regulate Southwest and the Department of Transportation “is using the full force of this department to make sure customers get taken care of.”
Host Bret Baier asked, [relevant exchange begins around 3:00] “So, was the D.O.T. aware of Southwest Airlines’ antiquated system for scheduling prior to Christmas?”
Buttigieg answered, “I don’t run Southwest Airlines’ I.T. system.”
Baier then cut in to ask, “Understood, but I mean, you said, back on the ‘[Late] Late Show,’ that you were confident that they’d be ready to service the tickets that they’re selling.”
After stating that airlines have improved, Buttigieg added, “Now, what we do, again, I don’t run Southwest Airlines, but I do regulate them. And so, what we’re doing right now is using the full force of this department to make sure customers get taken care of. I made clear to Southwest Airlines that they will be required by our department — and by the way, this is something that wouldn’t have been possible before the work we did this summer — they are now required to cover lodging, to cover ground expenses, to cover hotels for these delays and cancellations that were their responsibility. The reason we’re able to enforce that is because of the stepped-up customer service standards that we were able to get over the summer.”
Baier then cut in to ask Buttigieg if he’ll call for Southwest Airlines leadership to resign.
Buttigieg responded, “I think leadership has some serious questions to answer. I know the CEO is pretty new, but we’ve got to look at why, over the last few years, they didn’t make the investments that could have helped prevent this. But what I know for sure is that — and this is important for anybody who’s watching this to know — you are required to get your money back if your flight was canceled and you’re required to get it within seven days, in terms of your refund. And you are required to get your expenses covered. I know a lot of passengers right now still having issues. They’ve gotten to where they’re going. But they’re still having issues getting their bags reunited with them. We’re enforcing a requirement that you will get up to $3,800 in compensation for any of the kinds of expenses you have to run while you don’t have your baggage. And again, a lot of this is pursuant to things that were impossible before.”
Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett