For American Airlines, a holiday scheduling fail is a nightmare before Christmas.
With Christmastime travel one of the busiest times of the year, it’s not a good look when all your pilots are taking a holiday break. But that’s exactly what happened when a computer glitch for scheduling left thousands of flights pilot-less during the holiday period.
The American Airlines pilot union, Allied Pilots, said in a statement that American “disclosed a failure within the pilot schedule bidding system” on Friday. This week American is reportedly offering 1.5 pay to make up for the dearth of pilots.
BREAKING: American Airlines says computer glitch allowed all pilots to take vacation over Christmas week. Now union says thousands of flights are in jeopardy of cancellation. Americans says they’re offering 1.5x pay for pilots to fill in and expect to resolve the issue.
— Sam Sweeney (@SweeneyABC) November 29, 2017
The union wrote in its statement that the premium pay on offer isn’t guaranteed, and the group charges that the “solution” is a contract violation.
We’ve reached out to American Airlines for comment about the glitch.
For passengers, this could mean a lot of cancellations if pilots aren’t lured by the higher pay. Looking at last week’s Thanksgiving numbers, that could spoil a lot of holiday cheer.
Ah, this really is the most wonderful time of the year.
UPDATE Wednesday, Nov. 29, 12:34 p.m. PT: American Airlines said in a statement it expects to “avoid cancellations” during the holidays despite the scheduling glitch. Between reserve pilots and paying pilots 150 percent of their hourly rate, the airlines hopes to fill open trips.
Here’s the full statement: “We are working diligently to address the issue and expect to avoid cancellations this holiday season. 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.”
UPDATE Thursday, Nov. 30, 9:26 a.m. PT: In an updated statement American Airlines assured passengers that scheduled flights throughout December are not likely to be canceled. As of Thursday morning the airline said “only a few hundred” flights were still unassigned to pilots — out of 200,000 December flights.
Here’s the company’s full statement:
Out of the 200,000 flights American will operate in December, only a few hundred are currently unassigned to pilots. That number of open flights continues to decrease thanks to our pilots who are stepping up to the plate and picking up trips to ensure customers are taken care of. It’s another example of why we are thankful to have such an incredible team. In addition, we have more reserve pilots on hand in December than normal months and they provide us with the ability to fly many of the trips that are currently uncovered. We have not canceled any scheduled flights in December and will continue to work to ensure both our pilots and our customers are cared for.