HomeBusinessAirlines Got $50 Billion In Pandemic Relief – But Still Fucking Americans

Airlines Got $50 Billion In Pandemic Relief – But Still Fucking Americans

If you’ve flown recently, or attempted to, it could have gone something like this: Your 1pm flight became a 5pm flight became a midnight flight before being summarily cancelled. No explanation is given. The next flights are already sold out, but they have a central seat with two stops departing next week if that still works for you.

We put up with the airlines so much. Airplane food is now limited to crackers and a glass of soda. We pay exorbitant sums to check luggage. Only certain people can take hand luggage on the plane. We pay to choose our seat. A seat, by the way, designed for someone who is 4’8″ and weighs 95 pounds. They tortured us in various ways.

We took care of it because they got us from point A to point B quickly and safely. Sometimes it was even cheap. We agreed to the continued downgrading of service because they had something we wanted that only they could provide. But the airlines are not keeping their end of the bargain. We miss meetings, events, family time and more because they just can’t pull themselves together.

According to FlightAware, a website that tracks flight cancellations and delays, there were 1,629 delays and 631 cancellations “within, to or from the United States” on Sunday alone. It was only at noon. Cancellations and delays become more likely as the day progresses.

Why do these frequent delays occur? Airlines cite post-pandemic demand as high. That’s probably true, but people enthusiastically book seats on flights that would only exist so they wouldn’t exist at the time of travel. It’s not the demand’s fault.

Des Moines International Airport
Airlines have continued to require their employees to be vaccinated in order to work.
AP/Charlie Neibergall

Airlines have an abundance of other reasons. They blame “understaffing at the Federal Aviation Administration”. They point to “weather” or “unexpected staff absences”.

Then there is the shortage of pilots. Why would there be a shortage of pilots, the average flier shouts into the void. In one of the dumbest moves possible, pilots have been encouraged to retire early to avoid being laid off during the pandemic.

But this is exactly where the poor performance of the airlines becomes more important than just a company that does not provide quality service to the customer. Over the past two years, airlines have received more than $50 billion in pandemic relief funds. Our money. Congress tried to demand answers about how that money was spent, but like all their other boondoggles, they couldn’t come up with clear answers.

This money was intended to preserve jobs and save an industry. The pilots, quite important to the whole flight, should never have been encouraged to leave the job. Instead, the industry is in disarray, staff have been laid off anyway, and the money is gone.

Some airlines have continued to require their employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine until 2022 despite the jobs crisis. Any employee with a vaccine exemption was put on paid leave, which appears to be a poor use of taxpayers’ money, until the airlines finally relented. Anyone who didn’t have an exemption was fired. It made no sense, and we’re all paying for it now.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg had his own flight canceled recently and was forced to drive from Washington to New York. Now he says his ministry can force airlines to hire more staff. That might work for some roles, but pilots aren’t, ahem, transportation secretaries. They must have experience and know what they are doing. Buttigieg had no transportation experience before being cast in this role. A pilot can’t pretend the same way until he does.

Perhaps the real lesson here is that the feds should stop handing out free money with no strings attached, even in times of crisis. Hopefully every elected official whose flight is delayed two hours, six hours or ultimately canceled remembers that they gave this industry the money to treat us like this. And then let’s hope they don’t do it again.

Twitter: @karol

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