Senator Ed Markey, the Democratic Senator from Massachusetts, sat down with Yahoo Finance’s Adam Shapiro to explore his function with airlines throughout the pandemic, the traveler’s invoice of legal rights, and his ideas on development with the Construct Again Better bill.

Online video Transcript


ADAM SHAPIRO: Senator Markey, thank you for becoming a member of us. I want to ask you, just, when we glimpse at the airways, as taxpayers, we gave them– in some circumstances, lent them, but the the vast majority of it was a grant– $54 billion, the Payroll Assist Program. Is it– are we in a position to determine if that funds was employed sensibly? Simply because they informed us it was likely to retain them from obtaining to lay off workforce. And but, they have labor shortages.

ED MARKEY: I feel that for the huge part, they held their workers on the career. Flight attendants benefited from it. Other airline staff members, they benefited from it as nicely. The dilemma that I have is not with no matter whether or not we should really have bailed out the airlines. We should have. We had to preserve them heading. It’s now how do they handle their personal travellers. And they fare to them as travellers in the exact same way that the passenger as a taxpayer was attempting to enable out the airlines.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Well, what about you will find this challenge of the refunds. You know, if you purchased a ticket right before the pandemic, you under no circumstances bought a refund. And then there was the implementation of you are intended to get a refund. The place do we stand on that?

ED MARKEY: Perfectly, the airlines are refusing to give again the $20 billion, which they have from travellers to order tickets. And they’re continuing to hold that money. And in some occasions, they’re saying we’ll give you a voucher, but it’s a voucher to fly in the foreseeable future that has a time deadline on it when people really should have a correct to say there’s no expiration date on that voucher, that if I do not want to take my family members on a airplane in January of 2022 or February or March or April and May perhaps, as the pandemic proceeds to increase, that ought to be my suitable. And the airlines are just refusing to give travellers that sort of adaptability to safeguard their have households from the pandemic.

ADAM SHAPIRO: So how can Congress tackle that? Could it be, like, an unrestricted dates unique voucher or an precise “give me back my dollars”?

ED MARKEY: Yeah, Senator Blumenthal from Connecticut and I just recently wrote to all of the CEOs of the airline industry, indicating it ought to be endless, that this must not be an expiration date on any voucher that any passenger has to fly on a aircraft. The passenger and their loved ones should really establish when it can be safe to get on. And so that’s the place we are ideal now. Senator Blumenthal and I are escalating the pressure from the Senate. And we’re going to be enlisting the Division of Transportation in buy to even further make sure that the airline marketplace appreciates that a highlight is on them. And we expect them to be reasonable.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Let us speak about actually what’s likely on within the airplanes, 1st from the passenger standpoint. The airlines continue to keep telling us that the HEPA filtration techniques are ample to safeguard us. The TSA in January is going to make a perseverance about whether masks need to be prolonged. I consider it is really a probable bet that they’re going to lengthen the mask mandate. But the airlines say it truly is not essential. What does the committee believe?

ED MARKEY: My perspective is that we can place an infinity indicator next to when this pandemic is heading to occur to an conclude. What we do know is that there are tens of millions of People in america who are refusing to be vaccinated. To say to a passenger who has been vaccinated or a predicament where they’ve received a kid who’s three or four or 5 many years aged, who has not been vaccinated, that they are likely to be sitting down upcoming to a further passenger that has no mask on and is unvaccinated, I assume is reckless.

I questioned the CEOs of the airline organizations about that. Shockingly, the airlines believe that there should really be an conclude date to a mask mandate. And I just wholly disagree with that. I believe–

ADAM SHAPIRO: But eventually, will not that be the– I believe the CDC and the TSA make the final selection about irrespective of whether there is likely to be a mask mandate or not, suitable?

ED MARKEY: That is real. But at the exact time, it can be surprising to hear the attitudes of the airline CEOs. We could have a condition if they experienced their way the place there would be unvaccinated travellers on planes not donning masks, sitting down upcoming to smaller young children who are unvaccinated. And that is a extremely troubling, disturbing, set of feedback that we heard in the Senate Commerce Committee.

ADAM SHAPIRO: You will find the other challenge that entails– I have mates who are flight attendants. I have friends who are pilots. And we all know the stories about passengers getting out of hand, specifically given that the airways have recovered considering the fact that the pandemic shutdown. And I feel it was Sarah Nelson from the Flight Attendants Union suggested just ban alcoholic beverages on all flights simply because 60% of incidents are tied to the person consuming. Would that make perception? I necessarily mean, would we be punishing these of us who could possibly take pleasure in an adult beverage responsibly if we ended up to ban alcohol?

ED MARKEY: I was aspect of the energy 34 years ago to start out the ban on smoking on flights that everyone considered was an complete appropriate that each and every passenger need to have. And I did that. Senator Durbin led that work, but I was element of it with Congressman Waxman. And it appeared at the time to be revolutionary. Currently, it truly is like, of program, we never permit persons to smoke on planes. I think that at this time, offered the stage of volatility in the skies that we’re looking at with travellers who are pretty much ideologically in opposition to any mask mandate or any command of how individuals are traveling, qualified prospects to, inevitably, and unhappy to say, a ban on liquor as properly.

ADAM SHAPIRO: But I signify–

ED MARKEY: This full circumstance is place beneath regulate.

ADAM SHAPIRO: But what I listen to you declaring, however, it really is not a long lasting ban. But until finally we are out of the pandemic–


ADAM SHAPIRO: It can be a non permanent ban?

ED MARKEY: There are much more than 5,000 incidents by now that have been violent in mother nature on planes. And so several of them are tied to liquor. So once again, it really is not the liquor necessarily, but it truly is unacceptable habits in the skies, harmful habits in the skies, that, proper now, is nonetheless out of command.


ED MARKEY: And we have to do whatever it takes in order to make people skies far more safe. Protection–

ADAM SHAPIRO: So who could–

ED MARKEY: –on planes is the most critical difficulty. And it really is just a issue of us creating the appropriate decisions listed here. And liquor is evidently encouraging to gasoline this epidemic of violent behavior on planes.

ADAM SHAPIRO: How would you ban– how would a ban glance– what would it look like? It would be temporary is what I am listening to you say, but who would put into action it? Would it take an act of Congress? Would it be the FAA? Who would employ these kinds of a ban? And once more, I want to just reiterate what you might be proposing is short term, not everlasting.

ED MARKEY: Well, I feel it would have to be the Section of Transportation seeking at the all round security demands of the skies proper now, as, regretably, passions are intensifying, relatively than abating, and that additional and a lot more men and women just feel that it’s their constitutional right not to have to have on a mask on a airplane. And if that opposition is then fueled by liquor on that plane, it makes a risky scenario, not just for the flight attendants, but for the travellers on that plane as nicely.

ADAM SHAPIRO: All appropriate, very last concern on this problem mainly because I want to get to a pair of other factors. Will you approach Secretary Buttigieg at DOT to– excuse me, not Secretary Buttigieg, but would you solution the secretary to you impose these types of a ban?

ED MARKEY: Perfectly, I have not despatched a letter on that topic nevertheless. But I feel it’s these an vital matter that I’m heading to choose that pathway less than advisement as to whether or not I should be taking that action. But I do assume that the DOT ought to be hunting at it. And possibly that will be the source of my inquiry.

ADAM SHAPIRO: In my protection, I had it correct the first time. I need to have stuck with Secretary Buttigieg. Let me swap gears. Just before the pandemic, United Airways introduced a software to coach pilots. We realized we were heading to deal with a pilot scarcity. Today, Scott Kirby, the CEO, testified that they could have 100 much more flights in the air, but they have a pilot scarcity. Is it time to let individuals to get out federal government-backed college student financial loans to get their pilot’s license?

ED MARKEY: Very well, if we have a disaster in pilots and, you know, we will need to locate option pathways in buy to replenish that pool of pilots, then that is a thing that we need to think about. At the similar time, probably we can take into account the airways boosting the fork out of pilots so that a lot more of them do arrive again to get the job done. So which is perhaps an different route that could be pursued by the airlines on their own.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Then, last but not least, a traveler bill of rights, we have all knowledgeable if we have flown the inevitable weather hold off. The airlines in some cases point to weather delays when it may well not be the temperature. What legitimately could be performed to defend us as passengers from people forms of delays, to make guaranteed we get to in which we want to go, or at the very least, get some variety of legit refund, but also not to jeopardize the airways because they unquestionably are unable to control the weather?

ED MARKEY: Perfectly, ultimately, we have to make guaranteed that travellers are given the possibility of acquiring refunds whenever they want, if they assume that their wellness, their safety is at risk. And that’s a thing that I think we should really set on the books. I’m an unique sponsor of the airline passenger monthly bill of legal rights that is pending in advance of the Commerce Committee.

And it can be not just that difficulty. It truly is every problem. Why ought to the airlines be able to cost you an exorbitant payment if you want to modify your ticket? Why should really they be capable to demand an exorbitant fee to put the first bag, the next bag, the third bag on a airplane? It might price tag you $150. It is challenge soon after problem, where the airways are tipping people upside down at the counter, shaking dollars out of their pockets. And we will need a passenger invoice of rights in buy to make confident that we give each and every American suitable in their negotiations with the airline marketplace.

ADAM SHAPIRO: During the pandemic, they experienced suspended the improve service fees. Are the airlines– I am not conscious if they have re-imposed them, but I can exploration that. But are they now imposing transform costs the moment once again?

ED MARKEY: Properly, appropriate now, some of the airlines have removed some of the improve fees– not all of them. And I just consider it is completely critical that we just have that as a uniform policy as well. When you happen to be changing a flight, there should be no additional charges. It is just a few of additional keystrokes for an airline employee to make that change. It should not cost 100 bucks or 150 bucks. It should not be extra costly than the true original ticket was for the passenger that they had been acquiring.

ADAM SHAPIRO: I want to swap gears. And I take pleasure in your conversing to us about the airlines, but I’ve got a US senator right right here. What are the chances the Construct Again Improved program is heading to get passed in some form by the US Senate? And do you chat with Senator Manchin about what is it he wants?

ED MARKEY: Nicely, I talked to Senator Manchin about the weather-relevant concerns which he has. Other users talked about the troubles that they are leaning on with him. I even now continue being incredibly hopeful that we will be equipped to get a Establish Back Superior bill handed before Christmas. We’re all doing the job really challenging to take care of all of these difficulties. We’re operating with the parliamentarian in phrases of what can be proposed as section of this bundle. We’re talking to Senator Manchin about what he has as remaining objections.

My hope is that we can take care of them and get it handed. I think it’s an vital Christmas present for the American folks due to the fact it will aid clear up the weather disaster, make certain that you will find totally free pre-K for 3 and four-year-olds in our nation, $150 billion to aid seniors at property with any diseases which they have, depart policy for– and child treatment tax breaks for people. It is really a major, large bundle. My hope is that we can solve them. We’re listening incredibly carefully to Senator Manchin, hoping to accommodate him. And I am very hopeful that we will be equipped to do so productively.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Clock is ticking. As I’m speaking to you, Christmas is 10 times absent. Previous dilemma, I guarantee, sir, the Independence to Vote Act. A lot of people today are also, again, pointing to Senator Manchin as, you know, what can be done. Will a Flexibility to Vote Act in some form turn into law in advance of the midterm elections or the 2024 presidential election?

ED MARKEY: Nicely, we have to decide on involving democracy and the filibuster. And we have to have comprehensive voting rights, some type of exemption to the filibuster so that we can make sure in the exact way we just had been able to raise the financial debt ceiling by acquiring an exception to the filibuster, we need to have to do the exact same factor for voting rights. I know that Senator Manchin is continue to conversing I believe sincerely about a pathway to getting a way to guard voters in our region.

I’ve heard Senator Raphael Warnock from Georgia who now preaches from the exact church, Ebenezer Church, that Martin Luther King, Jr. did. He’s our senator from Georgia right now. Just speak passionately about what is occurring in Ga and other states, about legislation which are passing, which suppress the votes, primarily of Black and Brown citizens in our country. So it truly is definitely vital that we remedy this trouble.

And we’re heading to need Joe Manchin’s cooperation to improve the filibuster, at minimum for voting legal rights, so that we can place protections on the publications and to do it shortly. And I know that he’s still engaged in deep and, I imagine, pretty sincere discussions with Senator Warnock, Senator Padilla from California, and other individuals who really do guide on this situation.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Senator Ed Markey from the point out of Massachusetts, thank you so significantly for becoming a member of us. It can be been a enjoyment.

ED MARKEY: Thank you. Glad to be with you.

By Anisa