NEWS: Sanders Urges Secretary Buttigieg to Protect the Rights of Airline Passengers and Workers Amidst Skyrocketing Delays

WASHINGTON, June 29 – As skyrocketing flight delays, cancellations, and outrageously high prices and hidden fees are leaving passengers and crew members frustrated, broke, and stranded, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Tuesday sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg urging immediate action to protect the rights of airline passengers and workers.

Sanders wrote, “Let’s be clear. During the pandemic, when air travel came to a near halt, U.S. taxpayers came to the rescue and gave $54 billion to the airline industry. The top eight airlines alone received nearly $50 billion in taxpayer assistance from the federal government. Given all of the generous taxpayer support that has been provided to the airline industry, all of us have a responsibility to make sure that passengers and crew members are treated with respect, not contempt.”

In the letter, Sanders lays out specific and urgent steps Sec. Buttigieg should take to protect passengers and crew members and substantially reduce cancellations and delays, including requiring airlines to promptly refund passengers for flights that have been delayed over an hour; imposing fines on airlines for flights that are delayed more than two hours; and imposing fines on airlines for scheduling flights that they are unable to properly staff.

Over the past year, the price of airline tickets has climbed by 38 percent, while airline delays have increased by 50 percent and cancellations are up by 18 percent compared to where they were before the pandemic. So far this year, one out of every five flights in the U.S. were delayed.

The letter comes at a time when many pilots, flight attendants, and airline workers are also picketing and follows recent allegations from the American Airlines pilots’ union that airlines are intentionally scheduling flights they cannot staff.

Read the letter here.