Skip to content

Send raft-equipped planes to help reduce Florida flight delays, Buttigieg tells airlines

Nov. 03, 2022
4 min read
Pete Buttigieg
Send raft-equipped planes to help reduce Florida flight delays, Buttigieg tells airlines
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Ahead of the busy holiday travel season, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg has a request for airlines: Send more planes equipped with rafts to Florida.

Airspace around Florida is congested for a multitude of reasons, and Buttigieg said he'd like airlines to use more of the offshore routes located over the Atlantic Ocean off Florida's east coast. Those routes — which require extra survival equipment, including rafts, on board in case of emergency — were underutilized last winter, he said in a letter Thursday to airline CEOs.

Want more airline-specific news? Sign up for TPG's free biweekly Aviation newsletter.

The overwater routes that Buttigieg said were underutilized are highlighted. FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION

Federal regulations consider aircraft that fly more than 50 nautical miles (57.5 miles) from the shoreline to be conducting "extended overwater operations." In these cases, the planes require additional equipment, including rafts, life jackets, pyrotechnic signaling devices (such as flares), emergency beacons and a survival kit. Not every aircraft contains this equipment, which is expensive to both acquire and maintain — not to mention, it weighs a considerable amount.

Buttigieg's letter comes after an early summer of significant flight delays around Florida. While the worst of the delays have subsided, airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration continue to dispute their root cause. Airlines believe air traffic control staffing is insufficient, particularly at a facility near Jacksonville, Florida, that handles traffic en route to and from the Sunshine State. For its part, the FAA has said that airlines need to work on staffing up, as well as right-sizing schedules.

More: Space ships, storms and other reasons your Florida flight could be delayed this summer

Buttigieg addressed both sides of the debate in the letter, which had a largely upbeat tone; his notes resembled comments made in September by acting FAA administrator Billy Nolen.

He said that the facility near Jacksonville, known as the Jacksonville Air Route Traffic Control Center, has increased its staffing by 10% (though those are trainees who will largely contribute longer-term to the facility). He also noted progress made with airspace closures due to space launches.

As for airlines, he said that the industry has learned from what he called an early summer "stress test." He added that the industry had made progress with "long-term staffing issues" and singled out the huge pay increases that regional airline pilots have seen recently, as those carriers grapple with a pilot shortage.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

More: The room where it happens: Inside the FAA Command Center

Buttigieg also turned his attention to two other key markets that have seen growth in recent years: Denver and Phoenix. He implored airlines to share growth plans with the FAA as early as possible to ensure ATC staffing resources are properly deployed.

"FAA is also seeing indications that routes between Colorado and Arizona could experience even higher volume than last year," Buttigieg wrote in the letter, a copy of which TPG received.

"The sooner you can make FAA aware of growth plans in high-growth markets such as Denver and Phoenix, the more effective we can be in aligning resources to make sure air traffic controllers are ready to respond," he added.

Airlines for America, the industry's lobbying group, responded to the letter, saying that while they were encouraged by the additional ATC staffing in Jacksonville, they hope to see more staffing nationwide.

We are pleased Secretary Buttigieg and the FAA recognize that air traffic to and through Florida has increased significantly. This year, U.S. passenger airlines increased staffing to above pre-pandemic levels, and the FAA has recently increased ATC staffing in that area by 10 percent. However, as the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) has pointed out, more ATC staffing is needed to efficiently handle the volume of flights in the entire National Airspace System (NAS). We support continued resources to address this shortage and look forward to continued collaboration with the Department of Transportation and the FAA.
Featured image by DREW ANGERER/GETTY IMAGES
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best for earning alternative rewards for travel purchases
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review
Apply for Credit One Bank Wander® Card
at Credit One Bank's secure site

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10XEarn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel partner site
5XEarn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
1XEarn 1x points on all other purchases

Intro offer

Earn 10,000 Bonus Points
Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

Fair/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The revamped Wander Card from Credit One Bank earns cardmembers up to 10 points per dollar spent on eligible travel purchases. With no foreign transaction fees, the card is also great for international travel. However, points earned from this card can only be used at a fixed value, so it may not be the best option for those striving to get maximum value from their rewards.

Pros

  • This card has no foreign transaction fees and earns up to 10 points per dollar on travel purchases through the Credit One Bank travel partner site.

Cons

  • While cardholders can earn a significant amount of points on travel purchases, there isn't any way to redeem points from the Wander Card for maximum value (beyond 1 cent per point).
  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel
  • Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel site
  • Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
  • Earn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Redeem your reward points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, flights, hotels, and more
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Free Online Credit Score and Credit Report summary, terms apply
  • If you are a Covered Borrower under the Military Lending Act, you may get a different offer
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for Credit One Bank Wander® Card
at Credit One Bank's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for earning alternative rewards for travel purchases
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel partner site
5XEarn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
1XEarn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel

    Earn 10,000 Bonus Points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    Fair/Good

Why We Chose It

The revamped Wander Card from Credit One Bank earns cardmembers up to 10 points per dollar spent on eligible travel purchases. With no foreign transaction fees, the card is also great for international travel. However, points earned from this card can only be used at a fixed value, so it may not be the best option for those striving to get maximum value from their rewards.

Pros

  • This card has no foreign transaction fees and earns up to 10 points per dollar on travel purchases through the Credit One Bank travel partner site.

Cons

  • While cardholders can earn a significant amount of points on travel purchases, there isn't any way to redeem points from the Wander Card for maximum value (beyond 1 cent per point).
  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel
  • Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel site
  • Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
  • Earn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Redeem your reward points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, flights, hotels, and more
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Free Online Credit Score and Credit Report summary, terms apply
  • If you are a Covered Borrower under the Military Lending Act, you may get a different offer
  • See Rates & Fees