1/13 In 37.5 years of airline flight operations, airline journalism, & airline passenger advocacy, I've never seen a worse service meltdown than what Southwest passengers are currently undergoing. Let's address—once and for all—how USDOT has failed us.
2/13 Before you say…but airlines don't control weather! Neither does Pete Buttigieg! Yes, very true. But what good airlines do is PREPARE for weather, STAFF for it, ADJUST schedules for it, & PROTECT customers for it. Many US airlines haven't lately. And DOT hasn't demanded it.
3/13 Many of this week's hardships were predictable—pent-up Covid demand, record bookings, staff shortages, weather forecasts. Yet here we are. As an FAA-licensed dispatcher, like all airline ops managers I routinely canceled, delayed, rescheduled, & diverted hundreds of flights.
4/13 Was weather a factor? ALWAYS. So were disruptions due to air traffic control, aircraft maintenance, crew shortages, IT outages, etc. But we anticipated & prepared accordingly. AND KEPT PASSENGERS APPRISED, ACCOMMODATED, & COMPENSATED. This year is simply without precedent.
5/13 US airlines have made awful decisions scheduling flights (& collecting $) even when it's apparent some fights won't operate. And Secretary Buttigieg has logged dozens of media appearances promising airlines will do better. Result? Operations have exponentially gotten worse.
6/13 It wasn't always like this. Service was expanded when it could be accommodated. Interlining was mandatory, so rival airlines honored tickets during meltdowns. Passenger loads averaged 54-76% from 1960-2000; now they're over 90%. Today the system collapses if things go wrong.
7/13 Last week I detailed how EU & Canada mandate passenger compensation & accommodations. This week it's worse; we've sunk to new lows—record delays & cancellations. And DOT is squarely to blame for allowing such awful behavior by the largest carriers with no consequences.
8/13 This week has shown the world that US airlines act with impunity when it comes to how they treat paying customers. No other industry has such a track record. Don't have enough staff to operate flights? Schedule them anyway, collect fares, & cancel if necessary.
9/13 Owe refunds? Don't pay for months or years (DOT won't fine you if you're larger than Frontier). Reducing staff despite a $54 billion taxpayer bailout? No worries—DOT won't investigate & penalize you. Worried about passenger backlash? Do like Frontier: shut down call centers.
10/13 Or do like Southwest did today: "Our phone system is very busy due to high demand."

Do like airlines that ignore their own promises in their Contracts of Carriage. Rinse. Repeat. Tell DOT you'll do better next time.

Enough. Truly...ENOUGH.
11/13 We the taxpayers fund the airlines and they don't fear passengers. Or DOT. Or even bad publicity, which they've had a ton of in 2022. What airlines do fear is losing federal preemption, the 1978 deregulation clause making DOT their sole regulator.
12/13 That's why @econliberties recently wrote model legislation calling for elimination of preemption, so state courts, state AGs, & state legislatures can do what DOT refuses to do—make airlines accountable. Tell your Congressional reps & state AG that preemption must go.
13/13 For those stranded & inconvenienced by flight disruptions, stay calm & sane & safe. It's going to be an extremely tough week, with no let-up in sight yet. Long-term, we need to fight for a better way. Allowing airlines & DOT to continue on this path is simply insanity.

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Important thread on the complete failure of Pete Buttigieg in addressing the airline mess. Just a mess he helped cause with his refusal to hold airlines accountable. @SecretaryPete