Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was heavily criticized online after he suggested that customers “negotiate” for extra airlines miles in the wake of mass flight cancelations on the July 4th weekend.
The head of America’s transportation industry weighed in on the over 600 cancelled flights. However, instead of offering ways to increase flight capacity or actually improve the industry, he gave a personal anecdote on how he got an extra $90 in flight miles from one of his cancelled trips.
The former South Bend Mayor began, “Sometimes an airline will offer you points or miles as compensation, but you are entitled to a cash refund when your flight is canceled. When deciding whether to accept miles, it’s helpful to know their value, which varies, but often is estimated at 1 to 1.5 cents per mile.”
“For example, my connecting flight got canceled last night. At first, the airline offered 2500 miles, which I estimate is worth about 30 bucks. But I claimed the refund for the canceled portion instead, and it worked out to be $112.07,” he continued.
Buttigieg added, “Airlines offer miles as compensation for some travel issues, and you can often negotiate on this. That’s between you and the airline. But you are entitled to cash refunds for canceled flights – that’s a requirement that we will continue to enforce.”
However, many Twitter users were unhappy with Buttigieg’s suggestion. Buttigieg, who had previously served as a corporate consultant before his political career, was heavily criticized for working for their airlines over the American people.
Journalist David Sirota wrote, “Dude, you are not travel agent or an airline consultant – you are a regulator. Your job is to use the power you have to crack down on airlines when they abuse consumers.”
Another twitter user weighed in, adding, “Or I don’t know – maybe just hold them accountable & fix the industry instead of turning it into a barter system for basic requests? Better yet: get alternative high speed transportation solutions? THAT IS YOUR JOB! FIX IT SECRETARY! This isn’t a McKinsey brainstorm”
A third user noted the other risks of getting the refund, saying, “IF YOU ASK FOR A REFUND you are now stranded, you’ll need to buy a walk-up one way fare, that will cost you hundreds or thousands more. With all due respect, this is terrible advice unless the person is asking for a refund due to ‘Trip in Vain’ and requesting to be flown home.”
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders took the criticism even further, calling for the federal government to fine airlines $55,000 per passenger that they “defraud” by selling tickets they know they cannot fulfill.
Pete Buttigieg has never hidden his presidential ambitions, and this new catastrophe is almost certain to come up next time he runs. Do you think Joe Biden gave him that job because he thought he’d be successful or was he hoping Pete would fail so he wouldn’t run against him in 2024?