WATCH: GOP lawmaker writes off Buttigieg’s letter to Southwest as ‘just paper’

South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace discusses the Southwest Airlines meltdown during the holidays and its impact on her family.

Associated Press/Diptych/Washington Examiner

WATCH: GOP lawmaker writes off Buttigieg’s letter to Southwest as ‘just paper’

Steff Thomas

December 30, 01:47 PM December 30, 01:49 PM

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Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s letter to Southwest Airlines calling the rate of flight cancellations “unacceptable” amounts to “nothing,” according to Rep. Nancy Mace.

“I’m sure a letter really scared the CEO of Southwest Airlines,” Mace (R-SC) said mockingly Friday on Fox & Friends First. “I mean that really is … it’s nothing. It’s just paper at this point.”


Mace was personally affected by the cancellations, as her children were attempting to travel home for the holidays. They were stranded halfway in Baltimore, and while they ultimately made it, the congresswoman said their luggage remains missing a week later.

“We were up very late Saturday night like everybody else — trying to find flights, trying to find a rental car, trying to find train tickets to get my family home and nothing was available for 4-5 days,” she said.

The South Carolina Republican questioned why the disruptions were so vast when the airline was given a $7 billion bailout in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic to address these problems.

“Southwest Airlines was given a $7 billion bailout by the American taxpayers during COVID. I’d like a full accounting of that,” she told hosts Carley Shimkus and Todd Piro.

“Because if you can’t keep track of luggage, and you’re an airline, how do you think the American people can trust for you to take and keep track of the $7 billion that we gave you? It’s ridiculous. We’ve got to get to the bottom of it,” Mace said.

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Buttigieg has the responsibility to audit that money, she said, adding that “this isn’t rocket science.” He needs to get a “full accounting” and do it “sooner rather than later,” Mace said.

“This isn’t as difficult as it would seem, especially this day and age when the technology is there. Why aren’t they using it? Why haven’t they upgraded their systems? And why are they treating consumers this way?” she asked.

Mace, who sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said Congress should play a role too. But too much government intervention could be seen as overregulation and may drive up consumer prices.

Instead, she said the industry should update its policies and programs. She highlighted some of the ways Southwest chose to handle the situation this week.

“Originally it was they were only going to refund your ticket for weather-related cancellations, and they’ve changed that this week, thankfully, that they will refund all tickets between now and the end of the year, which they should do.”

Buttigieg said in the letter to Southwest that it is “critical” that the airline reimburse passengers.

“No amount of financial compensation can fully make up for passengers who missed moments with their families that they can never get back — Christmas, birthdays, weddings, and other special events,” the transportation secretary wrote in his letter.

“That’s why it is so critical for Southwest to begin by reimbursing passengers for those costs that can be measured in dollars and cents,” he wrote.

Southwest Airlines CEO Bob Jordan said scheduled flights would operate on a normal schedule starting Friday.

“There’s no greater focus beyond safety than taking care of our customers,” he said in a statement.

“We’re offering refunds, covering expenses. We’ll be going back out with even more after that.”

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