DOT Sec. Pete Buttigieg Says Air Travel Is 'Going to Get Better by the Holidays'

"We're really pressing the airlines to deliver better service," Buttigieg said.

People walk near a Christmas tree inside the Washington Reagan National Airport

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Department of Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg said air travel should be smoother by the holidays following a summer of mass cancellations and delays. 

"I think it is going to get better by the holidays," Buttigieg said during a Thursday appearance on the The Late Late Show with James Corden. “We're really pressing the airlines to deliver better service...they need to be ready to service the tickets that they're selling."

To hold airlines accountable, the DOT has also launched a new website detailing airline compensation policies and proposed a rule change that would require airlines to issue a refund for a delayed domestic flight.

“Now the good news is the people are going back to the skies. They have the income, they have the inclination,” he added. “We've put off holidays, we put off trips for two years. We're finally doing it again, which is great. But we need to make sure that the system is ready.”

Buttigieg said since just announcing the the compensation website, airlines have responded with several adding more concessions like offering free hotel accommodations if a cancellation requires passengers to stay overnight.

“We're pushing them, they're responding,” he said. “But when they actually fail to live up to the rules, there's serious enforcement behind that and we want to know if that's happened to you.”

The DOT’s crackdown on airlines follows weeks of widespread chaos that has seen more than 100,000 flights canceled in the U.S. so far this year and nearly a million flights delayed. In an effort to keep up, several airlines have cut back on their fall schedules, including American Airlines and United Airlines.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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