When speaking about the frantic airline travel, Secretary Buttigieg remarked, “We are not out of the woods yet.
Travelers are already making plans for the holidays, but Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said that while air travel over the holidays would probably be less chaotic than it was during the summer, it still won’t be flawless.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Buttigieg discussed the efforts made by the DOT to increase openness in the airline sector. It comes at a time when over half of the individuals recently questioned said they planned to travel for the Christmas break and airfare fares are predicted to rise to their highest levels in five years.
“There is still work to be done on the airlines’ personnel [and] for us to get our air traffic control where we need and want it to be. And I believe for the system and the economy overall,” added Buttigieg. So, over this holiday season, we’re keeping a close eye. As we enter the new year and start to see some of these pandemic shockwaves [completely] make their way through the system, I believe it will be better than the most challenging periods we witnessed during the summer, but not flawless.
Buttigieg praised airlines for shortening their schedules to reduce interruptions, which many did throughout the summer and into the autumn, but he noted there is still more to be done.
We’ve seen a lot of progress since then, but as we look back on the summer, it’s evident that the system is still not as resilient as it needs to be for us to be certain that passengers won’t be subjected to the increasing cancellations and delays that have afflicted so many of us this year.
Under Buttigieg’s leadership, the DOT has developed a new website outlining airline compensation practices, allowing customers to discover whether airlines provide certain sorts of concessions such as food coupons or automated reservations when flights are canceled. The government has also recommended a regulation change requiring airlines to pay refunds for domestic flight delays.
United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby, who also spoke with The Washington Post, stated that while the “whole industry is functioning a lot better,” there will always be some turbulence.
“We’ve built that cushion into the system, and that’s allowing us to overcome more of the obstacles,” Kirby said of cutting timetables, but added, “I’m hoping that the holidays will go well, but it’s a tight system.” And in a tight system, if severe weather or something unexpected occurs, it might be difficult. But it’s a better position than the entire business had come into the summer.”