Disastrous holiday travel: Is Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to blame?

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is facing criticism from both sides of the political aisle following the recent airline meltdown that left thousands of people stranded on Christmas. 

Despite promising in September that air travel issues would improve before the holidays, Buttigieg is now calling on Southwest Airlines to fully compensate customers for travel, meal and lodging expenses after thousands of flights were canceled and travelers were left stranded.

Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., has called for Buttigieg to increase pressure on Southwest Airlines and audit how the billions in taxpayer-funded relief the company received was spent. Rep. Beth Van Duyne, R-Texas, went further, stating that Buttigieg is unqualified to serve in his current role and has never really been on the job, while Nina Turner, the national co-chair of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign, blamed the problems on Buttigieg’s ambition for higher office.

Despite these criticisms, Buttigieg has defended his actions, stating that his department has worked with airlines to ensure that travelers receive refunds and vouchers when their flights are disrupted. He also emphasized the significant challenges faced by the transportation industry this year, including the COVID-19 pandemic and extreme weather events.

It is clear that the recent airline issues have sparked outrage among Republican lawmakers, who see Buttigieg’s response as inadequate and are calling for him to be held accountable for the problems faced by travelers. 

With the Senate Commerce Committee stating that it will investigate Southwest for the cancelations, it remains to be seen how this situation will ultimately be resolved.

However, it is clear that Buttigieg’s handling of the crisis has done little to win over his critics and has only further fueled the fire of those who believe he is unqualified for his position.