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Frustrated with the state of air travel lately? You’re not alone. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders called on Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and the U.S. Department of Transportation to take action to reduce airline cancellations and delays, he said Twitter Wednesday.
“In this country, air passengers are increasingly frustrated by the massive increase in flight delays, cancellations and outrageously high prices they are paying for tickets, checked baggage and other fees,” Sanders wrote in a letter to Buttigieg.
Americans are fed up with airlines ripping them off, canceling flights at the last minute and delaying flights for hours. It is time for @SecretaryPete Penalize airlines with a $55,000 per passenger penalty for every flight cancellation they know cannot be fully staffed. pic.twitter.com/NE7H03U9QU
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) June 29, 2022
“Thousands of flight disruptions have left passengers and crew stranded in 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 were planned months in advance. “
With the increasing demand for air travel, airlines are struggling to keep up, in part due to a pilot shortage. Faced with issues like inclement weather, many airlines have been forced to cancel flights entirely.
In his letter to Buttigieg, Sanders calls on the DOT to require airlines to reimburse passengers for flights delayed more than one hour, fine airlines for flights delayed more than two hours, and fine airlines when they plan flights that they cannot adequately staff.
“Taxpayers bailed out the airline industry in its distress. It is now the responsibility of the airline industry and the Department of Transportation to ensure, to the extent possible, that the flying public and crew members are able to get to their destinations on time and without delay,” Sanders wrote.
Buttigieg himself hasn’t been spared travel woes — he told NPR in mid-June that he, too, had a flight canceled. At a meeting with airline executives on June 16, Buttigieg said he had received assurances that airlines would take additional steps to ensure smooth operations over the July 4th weekend, but was still concerned about disruptions.