A Delta pilot allegedly went on his plane’s public address system to blame Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for the delays that left the flight grounded in Atlanta on Monday.
Systemwide air traffic control issues had “slowed the volume of traffic into Florida airspace,” causing delays for passengers across the US, including in Atlanta, Newsweek reported.
The Delta pilot reportedly vented to his passengers about the delay and targeted Buttigieg.
At least one passenger took issue with the flight crew member’s politically charged remarks.
“@Delta it is not okay for the pilot of flight 2274 ATL-RSW to blame a Florida ground stop on @PeteButtigieg,” Stewart Lucas said in a tweet, according to the mag.
“Completely unacceptable political dig just made twice at gate over loud speaker.”
The tweet was apparently later removed.
It was unclear what the pilot said exactly. The airline told Newsweek that it “will look into this allegation.”
The incident comes after a deadly winter storm walloped large swaths of the country during the busy holiday weekend, grounding or delaying thousands of flights.
The federal Department of Transportation and Congress have both signaled their intention to investigate Southwest Airlines, which was by far the carrier hardest hit by the winter weather.
Buttigieg has called on the airline to issue refunds for canceled tickets and reimburse its customers for expenses associated with their travel delays, including hotel stays, transit costs and meals.
“Southwest passengers have experienced unacceptable disruptions and customer service conditions,” he said on Twitter last week. “I have made clear to their executives that our department will hold Southwest accountable for making things right with their customers and employees.”
Airline employees have landed in hot water before for making political remarks, Newsweek noted.
In 2021, Southwest faced backlash after a pilot was captured on video exclaiming on the intercom, “Let’s go Brandon,” a not-so-secret code for “F–k Joe Biden” among detractors.
The airline apologized for the incident, saying it “was not reflective of the Southwest hospitality for which we are known and strive to provide each day on every flight.”
In 2017, a United pilot also reportedly ranted from the cockpit that she did not vote for either former President Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton because they are both liars.