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Tipsheet

Guess Who Biden Wants to Pay for the Travel Crisis He and Buttigieg Created

President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced their latest "I'm from the government and I'm here to help" scheme to expand government at the expense of private companies and, ultimately, the American people — and it's a direct response to another brewing crisis caused by the Biden administration. 

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Buttigieg claims the updates to DOT's "FlightRights.Gov" dashboard will make "airlines accountable to passengers," but it's really just a big government bully scam that forces airlines to pay for the Biden administration's mishandling of the nation's civil aviation system.

Here's Monday's official policy and rulemaking announcement that accompanied remarks from Biden and Buttigieg:

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today announced plans to launch a new rulemaking that is aimed at requiring airlines to provide compensation and cover expenses for amenities such as meals, hotels, and rebooking when airlines are responsible for stranding passengers. After a two-year DOT push to improve the passenger experience, the ten largest airlines guarantee meals and free rebooking on the same airline and nine guarantee hotel accommodations as part of the Department’s Airline Customer Service Dashboard. DOT expanded the dashboard today at FlightRights.Gov to highlight which airlines currently offer cash compensation, provide travel credits or vouchers, or award frequent flyer miles when they cause flight delays or cancellations. DOT’s planned rulemaking would make passenger compensation and amenities mandatory so that travelers are taken care of when airlines cause flight disruptions.

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Buttigieg, of course, says DOT's work to force airlines to provide financial compensation for air travelers is aimed to accommodate them for "airline-caused delays or cancellations." That term, conveniently for the Biden administration, is still up for debate and yet to be defined by the Biden administration's rulemaking process.

But are the delays really caused by airlines, or are they unavoidable consequences of Buttigieg and Biden's lack of planning or improper preparation to ensure the air transportation system is safe, efficient, and reliable? Keep reading. 

At the White House on Monday, Biden thanked airlines for being "critical partners in a number of important initiatives" including "requiring employees to get COVID vaccines" before quickly changing his tune.

"Last holiday season, travelers were stranded for days and had to scramble to find other ways to — for reaching their destinations," Biden said. "Many missed family gatherings, spent Christmas at an airport, waited countless hours in line or on the phone because there weren’t enough pilots, there weren’t enough personnel. That’s unacceptable."

Biden continued, saying "American air travelers deserve better, and that’s what we’re going to do — that’s what we’re doing here today." So, as DOT explains, Biden is using executive power to make it mandatory for airlines to cover "meals, hotels, taxis, ride shares, or rebooking fees, and cash miles, and/or travel vouchers whenever they are the ones to blame for the cancellation or delay."

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But it's not that simple, nor are air travel woes solely the fault of airlines. Companies such as Delta, United, Southwest, or American don't decide what's going on in the skies, operate air traffic control, or operate the systems that are supposed to keep things moving. The Biden administration, and specifically the FAA, does. Or at least it's supposed to keep things moving. 

In January of this year, the FAA grounded all flights for the first time since the morning of September 11, 2001, due to a computer glitch that took the NOTAM — Notice to Airmen, changed to a gender-neutral "Notice to Air Missions" by Buttigieg because priorities — system out of service. Presumably, delays and/or cancelations caused by such an outage would not be blamed on airlines, but the Biden administration gets to set the definition so who knows. 

Then, in March, even more bad news from the Biden FAA. As a result of the administration's inability to see issues on the horizon, the Biden administration was left to demand airlines cancel regular flights during the busy summer travel season in response to the FAA's air traffic controller staffing shortfall. 

Even though there's no reason the FAA, Buttigieg, or Biden wouldn't have known there'd be a shortage of air traffic controllers this summer, they didn't do anything to avert the shortfall. Instead, they've pushed responsibility onto airlines that requires them to reduce flights by up to 10 percent of an airline's takeoff and landing rights to "avoid congestion" at airports around New York City and Washington, D.C. from May 15 through September 15.

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Would delays due to such "congestion" — which might not be averted anyway if ATC staffing shortages aren't remedied soon — be subject to Biden's forthcoming rule requiring airlines to compensate passengers?

Making matters worse, the FAA's acting administrator announced in April that he would be leaving his post, even though Biden's previous nominee up for confirmation withdrew his name from consideration after embarrassing testimony before the Senate in which he couldn't even say what causes a plane to stall. 

So, just this year, the Biden administration has failed to prevent a nationwide system outage that grounded all flights, is requiring airlines reduce the number of flights traveling to and from the nation's largest city and its capital, and will soon be without a leader. These issues, paired with the airline and ATC vaccine mandates that Biden invoked in his remarks, have diminished staffing levels for critical positions in the air travel system, reduced the supply of seats for travelers resulting in surging demand and fares, and left the FAA without a leader to provide a steady hand.

Naturally, Biden is blaming airlines and going after their bottom lines — meaning even higher costs for consumers — and trying to make airlines pay for his administration's mismanagement and mistakes. Could air travel in the United States be better? Certainly. But for an industry with so much federal intervention, often negative, Biden and Buttigieg are barking up the wrong tree and shouldn't be able to abdicate responsibility on yet another set of bureaucratic blunders and simply force airlines to pay for their mistakes.

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