$54 Billion Later, Why Is Flying Still a Headache?

As the pandemic locked down cities and would-be travelers stayed home, the airline industry begged the government for bailouts — and got them, to the tune of $54 billion. The funds were supposed to help airlines avoid furloughs and ramp up more quickly once travel returned. But this summer, chaos hit anyway, with airlines like American, Southwest, and Spirit racking up cancellations in the face of crew shortages.

In this conversation, Kara Swisher asks Doug Parker, the C.E.O. and chairman of American Airlines, why the industry is still struggling to provide decent service and whether taxpayer dollars were wasted in the bailouts. They also discuss why the company “doesn’t deserve” Warren Buffett’s money, the in-flight rage over airline mask policies — and why Kara would make a terrible flight attendant.

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more information for all episodes at nytimes.com/sway, and you can find Kara on Twitter @karaswisher.

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