Referring to airlines operating in the United States, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg expressed a willingness to “beat ’em up” if necessary to protect passengers.
Buttigieg Says DOT Will “Beat Up” Airlines To Ensure Consumer Protection
Speaking to Reuters, Buttigieg promised that his department would continue its efforts to provide robust consumer protections:
“We’re continuing to work to make sure that airlines live up to their obligations, which we will enforce…
“We’re going to beat ‘em up when we think that’s important to get passengers a better deal.”
Recent upgrades to consumer protection include a new consumer dashboard that clarifies what carriers are responsible for in case of delays or cancellations. The Department of Transportation (DOT) continues to receive consumer complaints concerning issues ranging from refunds to tarmac delays and per Buttigieg, is “in the middle of what I intend to be the biggest expansion of passenger rights in years. And there are tensions that are naturally going to come through with that.”
For all people who love to complain about Buttigieg, his tenure at DOT has been marked by much stronger consumer protections for airlines compared to the feckless Chao era of the previous administration. I am not sure using the phrase “beat ’em up” is helpful in the era in which we witness so much violence onboard flights and in airports, but frankly, US consumers do need someone to keep airlines and check.
And who more appropriate than the federal government, which so lavishly used taxpayer money to bail out carriers repeatedly during the pandemic? Those who enjoy the benefits of the taxpayer dole should accept that there are strings attached.
To Buttigieg: the most important thing on your plate right now is ensuring that anti-consumer legislation in the pending Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill is stripped from the bill’s final language. There is nothing transparent about allowing airlines to hide taxes from initial search results. Consumers deserve to know exactly how much their tickets cost. That is not a lot to ask.
Buttigieg promises that the U.S. will “beat up” airlines in pursuit of its goal of protecting consumers. Specific verbiage aside, consumers need this counterbalance, which starts by ensuring that airfare pricing remains transparent.
image: MSBC screen grab via Instagram