‘Completely melted down’: Buttigieg reacts to Southwest Airlines chaos

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg talks to CNN's Wolf Blitzer about the "unacceptable situation" unfolding at Southwest Airlines as they canceled thousands of flights and describes a conversation he had with the airline's CEO.
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  1. Started flying SW in CA late 80s. A fan until last 4 years. Lost $400 + during Covid. Never could reach anyone even by waiting on hold for an hour several times….Just did a coast to coast trip in late July …Flight was fine although packed. However, waiting areas were filthy with not enough seating. Person at waiting area desk needed a personality adjustment…SW sent me a Customer Service Survey. Replied immediately…Never heard back. Airline use to have outstanding customer service. Began to notice a change even before Covid… Something is clearly wrong….SW could win me back with a $400 flight vochure. Started using United and Delta again.

    1. They are hoping that customers get sick of asking for their refunds and to move on, which make sense, because spending 4 hours on the phone you’ll be wasting another $400 of your time. That’s what you end up with when all airlines merge into 3 or 4 companies that are driven PURELY by profit, while running this critical service like running a dunkin donuts.

    2. Agree with all you say. Now, I did have better luck than you did in 2020 when I cancelled our flights due to Covid. I was able to get a voucher good for a year for one ticket and a full refund for the other ticket due to the passing of my husband. However, the other points you make are completely valid. I have long felt that I am ready to book Delta where more options for comfort seating and their areas at the airport are cleaner with more seating.

    3. @memphobro By booking couple months in advance, I have saved thousands over other airlines over the years. Plus bags fly free. Closer to flight date you don’t save as much.

    4. Their staff look chronically exhausted.
      When you have to fly with them, there is this uneasy feeling that they are cutting corners and it will blow up at some point.

    5. @What? Never had any safety fears including recently…It the lack of customer service at gates, on line and certainly via phone that has me using other airlines these days. Crummy waiting areas too.

    1. @Jack Riddance Gotta admire your Trump University Pride.



  2. This is just crazy. We own a dog boarding kennel and this has caused total chaos here with people not being able to pick up their dogs and us not having extra runs available for the dogs that can’t go home, so not only does it affect the travelers it affects others in so many ways!

    1. @Linda Slattery For what? People make choices. Despite all warning signals.Their destination and expectations override common sense. Geez.

    2. @james MTG suggested space lasers like the Jews use to start forest fires. They could’ve melted the snow but didn’t.

  3. Clearly their IT systems are inadequate, not functioning to scale, failed to integrate, and whatever is happening across the company, these projects have not been prioritized and financially supported. Senior leaders of the company and the CIO, CISO, and BISO need to present a realistic, cohesive plan, reviewed by they Board of Directors, ensuring timely delivery of working solutions that meet business objectives.

    1. @Tex he gives a very collegiate answer with absolutely no experience in the airline industry. I have worked on and around aircraft since 1986. I might have picked up a few things these past decades. Have a good night.

    2. Probably run that employee system on dBase IV. You would think that they understand that an airline is a giant logistics company. People/assets have to be in the right place at the right time. Tracking of all that needs to be seamless. The Board of Directors need to replace the current CEO and find a replacement that will fix their tracking problem.

  4. We can accept delays , and we can accept cancelations all due to weather incidents that are not controllable, but what happened really was the airlines fault and hope all those who spent 3 days in the airport should get very well compensated

    1. @zherin That’s not true. Both spellings of cancelation with one L or two L’s are correct depending on whether you’re using American English or British English.

  5. I just flew American and they were amazing! I even forgot to plan a wheelchair escort ahead of time and they were so polite and by my first layover they were waiting for me including on my return flight which was during big storms and couple other big things and they just adjusted and flowed. It made me want to fly again actually 😂

    1. @J5 I actually went from Washington state to Washington D.C with multiple layovers, so yeah I pretty much went across the map.

    2. I flew transatlantic with American Airlines and I am disabled. They were waiting for me with the wheelchair and helped my uncle unload my luggage. My back is badly injured in addition to my disability and the young woman helping me even handed my credit card back and forth for me. It was wonderful. Heathrow was a bit scarier but they finally got the job done. I tipped my American people but they say you’re not supposed to tip in the UK. I didn’t have any UK currency yet anyway, but there was a long wait that could have been handled better, even if I’d had £s on me, not sure if I would have used them.

  6. I wouldn’t fly during the holidays; winter weather is highly variable in both space and time more so now than when i was a child. Record snows you hope will melt next summer often melt within a few days to weeks after falling leading to more flooding. I think in winter were going to see more swings in daily and other time step air temperature at 2m above the ground. In summer im afraid there will come a killing heat that will outright kill life on earth wherever it occurs. I thought this heat would be about 100 C the temp where water boils but it appears that 60-70 degree C could kill humans. It only takes once to forever change a persons life never mind wholesale groups of vulnerable peoples. We could and should plan for this. Better prepared than dead butters

    1. In spring 2021 a heatwave – about 40C – hit Vancouver and Victoria – around 800 people died and the whole Ambulance system melted down. People were found dead – clutching their phones – on HOLD to 911.

    2. @Jason Drummond Australia flirts with 50 c and places like Pakistan too. American SW will. And when the butterfly flaps her wings just right there will be 50 c heat in the PNW of the US. If the power grid goes down so will a lot of AC, that will be a hell on earth on many levels. We could transition to using fuel cells to move electrons. Geothermal too. We going to need a mix of tools to deal with club of Rome 2040 model which has recently been found to model reality accurately.

  7. When a CEO says “we take full responsibility” and we never hear again..that sentence means nothing. Fix this issue, then step down. That is taking responsibility.

  8. 18 months ago the same thing happened to me for different reasons. I’m a disabled senior and I had an unscheduled layover going both directions. Hauling that suitcase all over hell has screwed my back up for a year! I haven’t flown since!! Amtrak here I come!!

  9. Brutal situation with SW. My son was supposed to travel from Raleigh to Nashville yesterday on SW. Here I sit in Nashville on the next day having to drive him the 8 hours, incurring hotel charges, food, gas, and now the 8 hour drive back to Raleigh. I’ll be putting SW on the ‘only if I have no other choice’ airline. Terrible service. A company that does not keep their infrastructure up to date has been padding short term profits for long term customer service / care. Eventually this catches up to the Company to the detriment of the customer base.

    1. Tharrigan56. Big deal. Don’t have your son book a flight in bad weather, undoubtedly of which both you and your son were well aware of. And now you whine? Geez.

    2. @John Brattan did you not watch the video? SW has canceled more than 70% of their flights while other airlines are at only about 5% cancellations.

  10. I admire his demeanor. He gets straight to the point. Fine them for over booking. The Public should know by now that the Holiday Season air travel is chaotic… Fly at your own risk…

    1. The issues aren’t overbooking. The weather caused cancelations, and it caused a domino effect that led to a complete failure. Other airlines are recovering and even taking on Southwest’s stranded passengers, that shows it’s SW, not the transportation department.

    2. @Richard ReeseWhat?? Does the Secy. of Transportation run an airline company? Or have you got some political agenda?

    3. @Richard Reese How can it be his fault? It’s the airline’s fault. They can’t even find where the aircrew are. All the airlines are having troubles with their flights because of this major storm across the country, with some places getting four feet of snow. It cause havoc everywhere. Transportation of all types have been disrupted. Planes, trains, tractor-trailers. People died from freezing, highway accidents, getting lost in whiteouts. And you want to blame the US Department of Transportation Secretary for Southwest Airlines’ screwup, a private company. Have you check the news lately or you’ve been watching Fox News and they’re blaming him for the snowstorm?

  11. The board of directors, CEO and investors demand too much return when the money pumped into the airlines during covid, was not managed properly. They should have upgraded their systems then during that time.

    1. “Why spend money when you’re making money”

      👆 Becoming fat, greedy and lazy is the truest way for a company to implode. The people at the top Don’t care. They made their money and are just gonna cash out.

  12. The government bailed out airlines numerous times, and we should’ve held them accountable the first time

    1. @Sean McLellan Like Trump Shuttle !! ( sorry, couldn’t let that one slide). Just a typical debunked Trump business…

    2. @Juicy Fruit hindsight and all that, right? Obviously they are doing bad business, my comment was directed towards the fact that their is no alternative to bailing them out. They are literally essential.

    3. @Sean McLellan how is flying essential? The people want trains (it’s in the opinion surveys), but because the capitalists control the government via bribes (thanks Citizens United) and prevent their businesses from failing, we are stuck with stupid planes.

  13. I couldn’t agree with you more, Secretary Buttigiet. Southwest Airlines and other airlines in this position need to own up to their responsibilities. If and when flights ✈️ are ‘canceled’, they need to either refund tickets or rebook flights ✈️.

    1. Angelina Cruz. Oh, come on. People new of this impending storm. Stay home.
      Fly to visit when weather’s good. Geez. What’s wrong with you people? You expect airlines to be prudent, or except blame when their airliner goes down in aberrant weather? And you speak of “responsibilities?” Are you nuts?

  14. It’s just pure greed in their part. Always overbooking and cutting corners whenever they can. Why do they deserve are tax bailouts when it all just goes to uppermanagment?

  15. Another reason to avoid holiday travel. Back in the “good old days” things were regulated to a degree. Now it’s a “sh$$ show”. SW is going to take a big public hit from this.

  16. Many of the cancellations involving all airline companies were unavoidable because of the brutal weather – a combination of extreme cold, heavy snowfall in parts of the country and high winds with gusts up to 40-50 mph. The airlines properly cancelled flights under these extreme conditions. However, now that the worst of the weather has subsided, Southwest Airlines has not recovered and continues to cancel flights. This problem is unique to Southwest Airlines.

  17. During the early months of Covid, flights were cancelled and you had to wait months to file a form to get your money back. Thanks Pete for being pro-active and helping customers.

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