Watch: Pete Buttigieg Told James Corden Airline Travel Would Be ‘Better By the Holidays’

LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 7: The Late Late Show with James Corden airing Wednesday, September 7, 2022, with guests Simone Biles, US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, and Jessie Baylin. (Photo by Terence Patrick/CBS via Getty Images)
Terence Patrick/CBS via Getty Images

Transportation Secretary told late-night comedian James Corden three months ago that airline travel would improve by the holiday season, a claim that does not appear to have been kept amid massive flight cancellations during the holiday.

According to a recent report from The Lever, federal officials share equal blame for the massive airline cancellations over the holiday season, a trend that began in the summer of 2022 and never seemed to improve. Chief among those responsible is none other than Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who has reportedly yet to enforce some consumer protection policies on the airlines that have been abusing the people’s travel needs.

In September, roughly a week after he received a bipartisan letter from 38 state attorney generals across the country demanding his department do more to fix the problem, Buttigieg said the situation would improve come Christmas when comedian James Corden pressed him on the topic.

“I think it’s going to get better by the holidays. We’re really pressing the airlines to deliver better service. So many people have been delayed, been canceled. It has happened to me,” he said.

Watch below:

“The good news is people are going back to the skies. They have the income. They have the inclination. We’ve put off holidays, we’ve put off trips for two years, we’re finally doing it again, which is great. But, we need to make sure that the system is ready,” he added. “If you’ve ever been mistreated by an airline. If they haven’t given you the refund they owe you, if they haven’t lived up to their customer service obligations, we will have your back.”

Pete Buttigieg said that the government created a website to hold the airlines accountable, adding that most agreed to refund customers in the event of a flight cancellation as well as provide hotels and meal vouchers.

“When they actually fail to live up to the rules, there’s serious enforcement behind that and we want to know if that’s happened to you,” he concluded.

The holiday travel period has been plagued by a winter storm and thousands of delayed and cancelled flights, the majority of which have occurred at Southwest Airlines. (Paul Hennessy/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

As the report from The Lever noted, few to none of Buttigieg’s promises materialized by the Christmas travel season, with Southwest Airlines being the biggest culprit stranding thousands of Americans. In September, for instance, the anti-monopoly think tank American Economic Liberties Project (AELP) noted that the department had yet to issue a single fine against the more politically powerful airlines.

“The Department of Transportation has announced a rule on refunds that won’t take effect for at least 2-3 years, sent the airline CEOs a letter, and promised to unveil an information dashboard,” wrote the AELP. “It has yet to fine any U.S. airline a single dollar for unpaid refunds, flight cancellations, or systematic violations of consumer protection law, and has issued fewer enforcement orders in 2021 than in any single year of the Trump and Obama administrations.”


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