United CEO says you may be paying for a flight that can’t be staffed

Flight cancelations will continue to wreak havoc on the travel industry throughout 2023.
US passport and plane ticket

The Daily Navigator strives to help you make the best decisions in travel. While we produce content according with strict editorial integrity this post may contain references to partner products. Here’s a full explanation for how our team makes money .

If you’ve ever been the victim of a last-minute flight cancelation that had nothing to do with the weather, then you’re about to get really angry over recent revelations. In an overtly candid interview, United CEO Scott Kirby says airlines are selling flights they know they can’t staff. 

Cancelations will continue through 2023

The Southwest meltdown put travelers on edge at the end of 2022, but according to Kirby, this isn’t an isolated incident. Flight cancelations will continue to wreak havoc on the travel industry throughout 2023 because airlines are notorious for selling tickets for flights they know they cannot staff. 

What’s the Department of Transportation doing about it? 

Apparently, this is a known issue that the Department of Transportation is well aware of. Companies routinely sell tickets for flights they can’t adequately staff, thus having to cancel flights at the last minute, ultimately causing a backup of refunds all while collecting billions in taxpayer bailout dollars. Such behavior has led over 30 attorney generals to write Pete Buttigieg, United States Secretary of Transportation, pleading for his agency to prohibit airlines from advertising ticket scams. But so far, the DOT has turned a blind eye. 

But United isn’t innocent either 

Discussing impacted operations in Denver due to the recent snowstorm, Kirby said United Airlines had a 100 percent completion factor, whereas Southwest and Frontier canceled 12 percent and 27 percent of their flights on the first day and 33 percent on the second day. “Airlines that are running like that, it means they can’t fly their schedule, and they’re going to have to adjust one way or another,” said Kirby. 

But William McGee, AELP’s senior fellow for aviation, says United isn’t innocent in all this either, noting that the department’s “complaint database showed that United was by far the worst offender on unpaid refunds dating back to the earliest days of COVID in 2020.”

Navigate the News Better

Take a five-minute trip through the news that matters most to travelers with our daily newsletter.

Related Stories

Built with ❤️ by travelers, for travelers.

© 2024 Dollar Flight Club Inc. All Rights Reserved

Stay in the know with
The Navigator Newsletter

A five-minute trip through the news that matters most to travelers. Past Edition

A five-minute trip through the news that matters most to travelers. Past Edition

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. The relationship may impact how an offer is being presented. Our site doesn’t include all the offers available. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

The Daily Navigator Featured Card Popup 3
new card art for chase sapphire preferred

75,000 bonus points

Worth up to $1,500 in travel!

Partner offer. Terms apply.

DFC Partner Perks App Link Image
Special Discounts for Our Members

Save Big with Perks

Get $5,000+ in immediate travel savings with Perks. Unlock next level travel benefits, for life. Get discounts from the world’s best travel brands you won’t find anywhere else. No credit required.

DFC Concierge App Link Image
Special Discount for Our Members

93% off lifetime access

Save $1,200 and 10 hours of your time on every vacation. With Lifetime access to DFC Concierge, get fully customized trip itineraries to make every vacation unforgettable.

Dollar Flight Club App Link Image
Special Discount for Our Members


You can save up to $500 on your next adventure without lifting a finger get email alerts when we find flights up to 90% off leaving your home airport. Just let us know your departure airport and we’ll do the rest.

The Navigator Commitment

The Daily Navigator is the cornerstone of the DFC Media family. Through each of our brands, we’re dedicated to helping our readers travel, spend, and live smarter.

With products dedicated to affordable travel, daily news, hospitality, and personal finance, we deliver the day’s essential content with none of the filler — all in a way that’s fast, easy, and fun to read. Every morning, over 2 Million travelers trust DFC to deliver the latest news and information so that they can make informed decisions faster. We hope you’ll join them.

We’re happy to have you here!