WASHINGTON–About 4 in 5 people who have traveled this year have experienced at least one travel-related issue. Bankrate.com says some common problems include long wait times, poor customer service, and lost money due to canceled or disrupted travel plans.
A lot of that is happening in airports. In an interview with “Fox News Sunday,” Transportation Secretary and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg discussed what he and his staff are doing to solve those problems.
“This is not new for us. In fact, it was last year that I announced the stiffest fines ever imposed under our Consumer Protection Program for airlines that were failing to provide refunds to passengers after they got stuck with cancellations,” said Buttigieg.
Buttigieg says his staff has conducted several investigations on airlines to “make sure consumers and passengers are protected.” He says there has been improvement on cancellations and delays.
“On the July 4th weekend, we had some of the busiest travel of the year. There were definitely fewer cancellations and delays. The numbers I’ve seen over the last few days show that 2.5% of flights were delayed or canceled. We’d like to get that closer to 1%. We know it’s never going to be zero,” said Buttigieg.
By law, U.S. commercial air pilots must retire by the age of 65. Senator Lindsay Graham has been talking with his colleagues about possible raising the age of retirement to 67. Airline executives have often said that they are dealing with a pilot shortage.
“These retirement ages are there for a reason and the reason is safety. I’m not going to be on board with anything that could compromise safety. The answer is not to keep the baby boomer generation in the cockpit indefinitely. What’s clearly the case is that we need to cultivate, train, and support a new generation of qualified pilots,” said Buttigieg.
Buttigieg reminded everyone that about 85 airports across the U.S. will be getting a piece of the $1 billion in funding from the bipartisan infrastructure bill. One of those is the Fort Wayne International Airport. That airport is supposed to get $13.8 million, which will be used to expand and modernize the existing terminal building. Executives at that airport say it doesn’t have adequate space for passengers waiting to board flights.