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Pete Buttigieg calls on airlines to treat flyers better

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaks during a press briefing at the White House on May 16. He said Friday airlines must work harder to satisfy flyers facing delays and cancellations. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/a5cb35759b8dd7c8ef2494091f477300/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaks during a press briefing at the White House on May 16. He said Friday airlines must work harder to satisfy flyers facing delays and cancellations. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 19 (UPI) -- Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on Friday that the airline industry is ultimately responsible for the summer delays and cancellations and must fix its problems or his department will step in.

Earlier this month, the department announced proposed rule changes addressing passenger compensation when flights are canceled or delayed after facing a wave of complaints from travelers.

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Flyers have complained about soaring cancelations and delays since the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to employee sicknesses and worker shortages overall.

Passengers have often complained that carriers have not been properly compensating them for those inconveniences.

"The message to the airlines is that you've got to make it easier for passengers to understand their rights," Buttigieg told NBC's Today on Friday. "You've got to support passengers when they experience delays or cancelation."

Nearly one-quarter of all domestic flights were delayed over the first six months of 2022 while 3.2% have been canceled altogether, the transportation department said.

The proposed rule updates would include changes that affect the departure and/or arrival times by three hours or more for a domestic flight or six hours or more for an international flight and changes to the departure or arrival airport.

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They also include changes that increase the number of connections in the itinerary and changes to the type of aircraft flown if it causes a significant downgrade in the air travel experience or amenities available onboard the flight.

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