As summer travel heats up, transportation secretary aims for smoother flying experience

America’s secretary of transportation hopes last year’s summer travel woes won’t repeat this year, as he pushes for the government and airlines to learn from their mistakes.

Pete Buttigieg talked about easing those problems we see when flying which includes more rights for travelers.

He said Monday was the busiest travel day since before the pandemic with 2.6 million people going through TSA and he’s expecting even greater demand heading into Memorial Day weekend.

While Jacksonville International Airport is far from the nation’s busiest, it will also see an increase in travelers.

If there’s someone who sees a lot at JAX, it’s South Philly Billy, a musician who plays in the airport’s atrium.

“I don’t see any grumpy people I’ll tell you tell that,” he said, noting he hopes his music helps soothe people. “I haven’t heard any screaming or anything, so that’s good.”

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“I think all of us have airline stories from last summer and the disruptions that took place then,” Buttigieg said in a Tuesday morning news conference. “Cancellation and delay rates were at unacceptable proportions last year. It’s important that not happen again.”

He said the Department of Transportation is collaborating with airlines to make flying better and he’s confident that everyone has learned from their mistakes, working to reduce congestion and improve customer service when things go wrong. Carriers are also hiring more staff, and so is the FAA, although the nation is short about 3-thousand air traffic controllers.

Jazmin and her son Ray Ray just traveled to California to visit family. She said she’s always hopeful the process goes smoother.

“It’s pretty stressful sometimes, the layovers, I just came from a 3 hour layover,” she noted.

The government is reminding people that airlines must compensate travelers if there’s a major cancellation or delay. Buttigieg said last year travelers got $1 billion back for disrupted flights.

That’s music to the ears for fliers, knowing that airlines are trying to win their business back after a rough few years.

“I take the cheaper flights so the long way around a lot of times, but it’s okay for me because I have more time than I do money, I’m retired,” said Janita Conger, who traveled to Jacksonville from Texas to visit family.

You can find helpful advice to make traveling easier on the website

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