January 05, 2023

Ranking Member Larsen and 25 T&I Members Urge Secretary Buttigieg to Hold Airlines Accountable for Mass Holiday Cancellations

Washington, D.C. — Today, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Rick Larsen (D-WA) and 25 colleagues sent a letter to the Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg expressing their concerns regarding the growing problem of mass flight cancellations and urging the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to hold airlines accountable. The members pointed to the failures of Southwest Airlines in particular, which had 16,000 flight cancellations this past holiday season alone. 

“We write to you today to express our strong concerns over the growing problem of mass flight cancellations caused by commercial passenger airlines,” the members wrote. “We urge you to use the full weight of your agency to hold Southwest Airlines accountable, provide stronger consumer protections for passengers and help prevent these types of mass cancellations from occurring in the future.”

The members acknowledged the DOT’s progress on expanding the rights of airline passengers and conducting oversight of the airline industry, but noted “Unless immediate action is taken, the rising threat of mass flight cancellations risks jeopardizing Americans’ confidence in the reliability of our nation’s air transportation network…. The abrupt nature of the latest set of cancellations left thousands of passengers with an impossible choice: either pay potentially exorbitant fees to quickly rebook another flight or be left stranded and at risk of missing the holiday season with family and friends…. This is unacceptable.”

As the committee considers the 2023 FAA reauthorization, the members requested DOT “identify and provide for this Committee any additional legal authorities the Department may need in order to further bolster protections for airline passengers.”

The full letter text can be found here.