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American Airlines glitch: What’s going on with holiday flights?


Yikes. A scheduling glitch has hundreds to thousands of American Airlines flights without the pilots for the holiday season.

American Airlines management disclosed late last week that a failure had occurred within the pilot schedule bidding system — allowing too many pilots to request off time for the holidays. As a result, thousands of flights did not have pilots assigned to fly them during the upcoming critical holiday period, according to the union Allied Pilots Association, which represents 15,000 pilots.

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Here’s what we know now:

1. HUNDREDS OF FLIGHTS American Airlines said on Thursday that only a few hundred flights are currently unassigned to pilots due to the holiday scheduling error. “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,” the company said in a statement.

2. NO CANCELED FLIGHTS American Airlines said they have not canceled any scheduled flights in December and will continue to work with pilots to schedule flight operations.

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3. PILOT UNION SAYS DIFFERENT The Allied Pilots Association issued a statement saying management’s claim that only hundreds of flights are unassigned is false. “The Allied Pilots Association is able to view in real time December flight crew assignments for American Airlines. That data does not support management’s statement regarding December flights that ‘only a few hundred are currently unassigned to pilots.’ In fact, thousands of flights are still listed as unassigned.”

4. SERIOUS CONCERNS The Allied Pilots Association said it remains “seriously concerned about the potential for significant schedule disruption for our passengers, pilots, and fellow employees during the critical holiday travel season.”

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5. BUSY SEASON The holiday season is the busiest travel time for airlines. On Thanksgiving weekend (from Nov. 17 to Nov. 26), American Airlines flew 55,463 flights and served approximately 5.5 million customers. The airline checked four million bags, and claimed they went three consecutive days during the holiday weekend with no mainline cancellations.

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