TROLLING AND SHADE: Pete Buttigieg gives resounding clap back reply to Judiciary House GOP on Twitter over cancellations of Southwest Airlines scheduling system and other flights KossyDerrickBlog KossyDerrickEnt

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Wednesday, December 28, 2022

TROLLING AND SHADE: Pete Buttigieg gives resounding clap back reply to Judiciary House GOP on Twitter over cancellations of Southwest Airlines scheduling system and other flights

Information reaching Kossyderrickent has it has it Pete Buttigieg gives resounding clap back reply to Judiciary House GOP on Twitter over cancellations of Southwest Airlines scheduling system and other flights.

And Tuesday evening, as passengers were still struggling to get around the country or were stranded in airports far from home, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) tweeted that airline consolidation “has been a disaster” and cited Southwest’s ongoing problems as the “latest example.” Warren called on DOT to use “its antitrust tools to protect fliers,” starting with blocking a pending merger of JetBlue and Spirit Airlines.

In a statement late Tuesday, DOT said the amount of canceled and delayed flights for Southwest is “unacceptable and dramatically higher than other U.S. carriers” and threatened to “take action to hold Southwest accountable” if it fails to fulfill its obligations to customers — including cash refunds, meal and hotel vouchers where appropriate. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg also spoke with union leaders and Jordan about the issue and pressed the airline to also help its own workers, many of whom DOT said are “stranded alongside passengers.”

Blizzard conditions kept planes grounded at airports nationwide this week, with thousands more flights canceled Tuesday. But Southwest Airlines is the focus of passenger anger after it canceled far more flights than any other major carrier. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg joined Judy Woodruff to discuss how the department will hold Southwest accountable.

Judy Woodruff:

For more about what's happening and the federal response to these cancellations and delays, I'm joined by the U.S. secretary of transportation, Pete Buttigieg.

Mr. Secretary, thank you so much for joining us.

How much of what is going on with the airlines is due to their poor decisions and how much is due to the weather?

Pete Buttigieg, U.S. Secretary of Transportation: Well, we really see two different things going on.

One is a chain of events that was because of the weather. Everybody understands this was an extreme storm and it knocked the aviation system off balance. But we're seeing recovery in most of the system. As a matter of fact, but for one airline, the cancellation rate is down to about 5 percent and falling.

But that other airline, Southwest Airlines, is actually moving in the wrong direction. They have had a set of cascading effects. A majority of their flights are canceled. And it's led to catastrophic and unacceptable conditions, in terms of what's happening to passengers and what's happening to employees.

Ordinarily, I think that, sometimes, in the media, the word meltdown is used a little bit too often. Right now, I would say meltdown is the only word I can use to describe what is happening across Southwest Airlines' operations.

Judy Woodruff:

Well, we understand you have spoken today with the CEO of Southwest and of the head of the airline attendants — flight attendants union.

What are you learning about what's gone wrong and what's the source of it?

Pete Buttigieg:

Well, what the flight attendants and also the pilots have described to me is outdated systems so that, right now, the airline is unable to track where many of its crews even are.

Obviously, that's not an acceptable state of affairs when you are trying to recover operations. We're also hearing from customers, passengers who are not even able to get on the phone line, just getting a busy signal when they call for help.

I spoke to the CEO of Southwest Airlines. I reminded him of the stepped-up commitments that the airline made to our department over the summer. And we got those commitments in writing about how they take care of customers, passengers when there are issues like this.

We're going to be holding them accountable to those commitments and expect them to go above and beyond the letter of the law in terms of how they treat passengers, making sure that they are paying for things like hotels, ground travel expenses, meals and, of course, the refunds for passengers whose flights are canceled.

They have pledged that they're going to be doing that. I'll be watching very closely to make sure that they follow through.

DOT, and Buttigieg in particular, have been vocal about ensuring customers get refunds, but less so in stepping in to prevent problems in the first place.

Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, on Tuesday said her panel plans to look into the root causes of the meltdown and its impact on travelers, and noted that Southwest’s problems over the past several days “go beyond weather. “

“Many airlines fail to adequately communicate with consumers during flight cancellations,” Cantwell said in a statement. “Consumers deserve strong protections, including an updated consumer refund rule.” Last month, Cantwell and Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) asked DOT to increase the kinds of compensation passengers are legally entitled to for delays or cancellations that are the airlines’ fault.

A spokesperson for Southwest said the airline has been in touch with Buttigieg about the problem, and referred to a statement made on Monday that it is “rebalancing airline” operations to rectify the issue. Though the problems began over the weekend, they have since snowballed drastically — the airline has canceled roughly 70 percent of its flights for Tuesday and another 60 percent for Wednesday in an attempt to recover. According to flight tracking service Flightradar24, more than 5,000 Southwest flights have already been canceled over the next 48-hour period.

“Continuing challenges are impacting our customers and employees in a significant way that is unacceptable,” the airline said. “We’re working with safety at the forefront to urgently address wide-scale disruption by rebalancing the airline and repositioning crews and our fleet ultimately to best serve all who plan to travel with us.”

As for most airlines, the unprecedented cold that blanketed much of the nation spoiled many flights, beginning at Denver International Airport on Dec. 22. Virtually every airline was affected during the worst of the winter storm, but other airlines have begun to recover, where Southwest has not.

“Our pilots can’t get hotels, they’re sleeping in airports,” Casey Murray, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilot Association union, said on the “Today Show” Tuesday. In the same segment, Lynn Montgomery, president of Transport Workers Union Local 556 at Southwest Airlines, said flight attendants have been unable to reach Southwest’s scheduling line, with some waiting for a new assignment for over 17 hours.

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