Top Democrats criticize Pete Buttigieg for not being able to stop 'airmageddon' and want him to fine each passenger on canceled flights $55,000

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is being criticized by top members of his own party for not doing enough to stop the 'airmageddon' flight chaos, which continued through the Fourth of July holiday.

By Sunday night, more than 312 flights had been canceled and 4,378 had been delayed. Since the start of the pandemic, this was the busiest holiday weekend.

So far, 88 more flights have been canceled for Monday, but that number is likely to go up by a lot once July 4 travel starts, which will affect thousands of Americans coming back from a long weekend away.

In letters sent out last week, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Ro Khanna of California both asked Buttigieg to do something well before the holiday weekend.

Sanders asked Buttigieg to require airlines to refund passengers for flights that were delayed more than an hour, fine airlines $55,000 per passenger for flights that were delayed more than two hours, and fine airlines that can't "properly staff" scheduled flights.

As expected, travel chaos got worse over the weekend, so Sanders took to Twitter again to tell Buttigieg to make a plan.

 
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said earlier this month that airlines had until July 4 to figure out the issues and work out the kinks so travelers can have a smooth summer holiday
Sen. Bernie Sanders demanded Washington fine airlines $55,000 per passenger for every flight cancelation they know can't be fully staffed and slammed Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for failing to fix the travel chaos 
 
 
More than 312 flights were canceled and 4,378 were delayed by Sunday evening during the busiest holiday weekend since the pandemic began
More than 312 flights were canceled and 4,378 were delayed by Sunday evening during the busiest holiday weekend since the pandemic began
 
 
A graph shows how the numbers of delays have changed since last week
A graph shows how the numbers of delays have changed since last week 
 
 
Travelers arrive an air train at Newark Liberty Airport on Sunday. Another 88 have so-far been canceled for Monday - although that number will likely rise exponentially as July 4 travel commences, affecting thousands of Americans returning from a long weekend away
Travelers arrive an air train at Newark Liberty Airport on Sunday. Another 88 have so-far been canceled for Monday - although that number will likely rise exponentially as July 4 travel commences, affecting thousands of Americans returning from a long weekend away
 

'The airlines got $54 billion in taxpayer money. They said thanks by jacking up ticket prices 45% & stranding passengers at crowded airports. Enough,' Sanders wrote. 'It's time for the Transportation Department to impose massive fines on poor-performing airlines & full refunds for long delays.'

FlightAware says that by 11 p.m. Sunday night, at least 312 flights had been canceled and a huge 4,378 had been delayed. By the end of Saturday, 654 US flights had been canceled and 5,860 were delayed.

By Sunday evening, United Airlines had canceled 55 flights and put off 314. Delta has canceled 53 flights and made 433 flights late. American Airlines has canceled 29 flights and made 533 flights late.

Sanders asked Buttigieg to do something before the holiday weekend. In an email to his supporters, he told them to tell the Biden administration to "take action to reduce flight cancellations and delays."

Sanders wrote, "Airline passengers all over the country are getting more and more angry about the huge rise in flight delays, cancellations, and outrageously high prices they have to pay for tickets, checked bags, and other fees."

"Thousands of flight delays have left passengers and crew members stuck at crowded airports from one end of the country to the other, causing them to miss weddings, funerals, and business meetings and ruining family vacations that had been planned for months."

Rep. Khanna, who is on the House Oversight Committee and is the deputy whip of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, agreed with Sanders on this issue and also wrote to Buttigieg.

Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Ro Khanna of California both called for Buttigieg to take action well ahead of the holiday weekend, according to letters they sent out last week

Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Ro Khanna of California both called for Buttigieg to take action well ahead of the holiday weekend, according to letters they sent out last week

 
Rep. Khanna, who serves on the House Oversight Committee and is deputy whip of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, joined Sanders on the issue and also wrote to Buttigieg
Rep. Khanna, who serves on the House Oversight Committee and is deputy whip of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, joined Sanders on the issue and also wrote to Buttigieg
 

'The Department's incremental response so far has been lacking the urgency, imagination, and boldness to meet the moment and needs of the American people,' he wrote.

Khanna told The American Prospect, "Buttigieg needs to make it clear that he has the power to go after the airlines for unfair and deceptive practices." He needs to explain what will happen when flights are canceled, there aren't enough workers, or passengers are lied to.'

Buttigieg had previously asked airlines to get things in order before the weekend. Yesterday, he seemed to give up on getting things in order when he told Americans to do what he did and get paid for their missed flights.

"Airlines offer miles as compensation for some travel problems, and you can often negotiate on this," tweeted Buttigieg, who said he got back $112.07 for his canceled flight on Friday after being offered about $30.

"Sometimes an airline will give you points or miles as compensation, but if your flight is canceled, you are entitled to get your money back."

Delta has gone to extreme lengths to make customers happy. Last week, eight passengers on an overbooked Delta flight said the airline offered each of them $10,000 to give up their seats.

This weekend, about 48 million people are expected to travel, and AAA thinks that 3.5 million of them will fly. But the real number of people flying may be much higher, since the Transportation Security Administration screened more than 2.1 million people at airports on Saturday alone.

Yesterday, American Airlines canceled the most flights of the major U.S. airlines. It canceled 102 flights and delayed 889 flights. Delta came in second, with 82 flights canceled and 535 flights delayed.

United Airlines canceled 43 flights and made 492 flights late, while Southwest canceled 25 flights and made 1,048 flights late.

FlightAware says that since the busy Juneteenth travel weekend, more than 12,000 flights in the U.S. have been canceled.

Holiday travelers will also have to deal with chaos at the airport and heavy traffic, as well as higher prices. Since a year ago, the average price of gas has gone up 56%, the average price of a mid-range hotel has gone up 23%, and the average price of the cheapest flight has gone up 14%.

AAA predicts that 47.9 million Americans will travel for the Fourth of July this year, which is up 3.7% from last year and close to the historic high of 50 million reached in 2019 before the pandemic.

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