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.”