Why is Air Travel So Delayed and Confused Right Now?

Air travel has been experiencing serious disruptions and delays in the past few months and it doesn’t look ready to let up anytime soon.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who is currently heading a project to tear down highways and roads that are historically racist, said he hopes the situation gets better soon.

In the meantime, Buttigieg has shown himself unable to do anything to actually improve the situation. Here’s why…

Airlines Scrambling to Meet Demand

The truth is this problem is mainly occurring as airlines readjust to heavy post-COVID demand. The Juneteenth weekend saw 3,000 cancelled flights and thousands of more delays.

Airlines are making higher profits than ever, now that lockdowns are over. Yet, they are not properly scheduling and accounting for delays in order to make sure the information they provide is accurate.

Buttigieg said the federal government doesn’t want to penalize airlines for mistakes they are making right now and would prefer to work via “partnership.”

So far, the Department of Transportation (DOT) hasn’t done anything except make sure people whose flights are cancelled get a refund more quickly.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) which exists within the DOT, can come in to regulate how many flights are leaving and coming in airports when they get too busy. This is done for the sake of safety.

However, for the most part, a 1978 law eliminated the government’s right to interfere in the free market operations of airlines and airports.

Cracking Down on Delays

Various airlines say they are working hard to stop the delays that keep cropping up, but they are struggling with staff shortages.

Part of the reason is COVID vaccine mandates in some airlines, which led to some pilots no longer being permitted to fly for certain carriers.

According to Buttigieg, “challenges” will continue to happen quite a bit. This July 4th weekend, as over three million Americans fly, there’s no doubt there are going to be some delays and cancellations.

Hopefully, it will not be as bad as the Juneteenth situation. Buttigieg himself had his flight cancelled recently to New York. He drove from DC to New York instead, so he knows how frustrating it can be.

Are There Other Solutions?

Some members of Congress have been pushing other potential solutions.

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders said DOT should penalize airlines $55,000 per passenger who misses a flight for staff shortages that could have been avoided ahead of time.

If a flight is over an hour late, Sanders says passengers should get a 100% refund, and airlines should also get heavy fines for flights that are more than two hours delayed.

It sounds like Sanders has some bad flying frustrations because he’s very serious about this.

Penning an angry letter to Buttigieg, the Vermont socialist said he’s sick of airlines getting away with “unacceptable” incompetence. He then said as prices have climbed 38% over the past year, delays have doubled and cancellations have increased by 18%.