Thousands of flights left without pilots due to scheduling error

System glitch leaves thousands of American Airlines flights without a pilot during holiday season.

Chana Roberts,

American Airlines
American Airlines
iStock

A statement posted Tuesday by American Airlines to the Allied Pilots Association's website said the airline experienced a scheduling glitch, leaving thousands of flights without a pilot.

"On Friday, management disclosed a failure within the pilot schedule bidding system. As a result, thousands of flights currently do not have pilots assigned to fly them during the upcoming critical holiday period," the statement read. "Today, management issued an update detailing the 'significant holes' in the operation and unilaterally invoked a solution for crewing affected flights."

"We have reserve pilots to help cover flying in December, and we are paying pilots who pick up certain open trips 150 percent of their hourly rate — as much as we are allowed to pay them per the contract.

"We will work with the APA to take care of our pilots and ensure we get our customers to where they need to go over the holidays."

American Airlines also emphasized that they are "working diligently to address the issue and expect to avoid cancellations" over the holiday season.

Airports affected by the glitch include those in Chicaog, Dallas-Fort Worth, Miami, and New York, CNBC reported.

According to American Airlines Captain, many pilots were given time off around the holidays, and the computerized scheduling system accidentally gave too many pilots off.

"The system went from responsibly scheduling everybody to becoming Santa Claus to everyone," he said. "The computer said, 'Hey ya'll. You want the days off? You got it."

Another American Airlines captain told Yahoo Finance that "all the trips turned green, so everyone dropped trips. It wasn’t a failure to assign [pilots], it’s just no one said, 'I want to work Christmas.'"

"I think there’s going to be some pilots who don’t have young kids who are going to fly for time-and-a-half. But I ain’t gonna work on Christmas — sure as hell not for time-and-a-half. Double time — I’d probably go do that."

A company statement to Yahoo Finance said American Airlines will pay use reserve pilots and pay pilots who take "certain open trips" 150% of the hourly rate, and "as much as we are allowed to pay them per contract." Negotiations are still ongoing.








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