It’s amazing the havoc a little old computer bug can wreak. This morning Apple patched a flaw that granted an unauthorized user root access to the macOS system and earlier this year a DNS-related issue brought down large portions of the Internet. Now, Bloomberg and others are reporting that American Airlines—the largest airline in the world—may have as many as 15,000 flights, or more, without pilots next month (December 17 through December 31) thanks to a scheduling error.
Reportedly, the airline’s scheduling system allowed too many pilots to request time off during the busy holiday season. Essentially the system showed that there was enough staff to cover planned flights; problem is, there wasn’t.
We reached out to American Airlines and received the following 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.”
While the statement provided is reassuring albeit vague, this current predicament just goes to show how much damage a little glitch can do, and also comes at bad time for the airline. In October the NAACP warned African-American passengers of “disrespectful, discriminatory, or unsafe” travel conditions citing numerous incidents.
Earlier in the year a blind woman made headlines for being kicked off a flight due to a dispute regarding her guide dog having enough space and being denied an upgrade due to dogs not being allowed in first-class.
According to the New York Times, a spokesperson for the Allied Pilots Association, a union that represents 15,000 pilots, can’t say anything but “stay tuned.” They have filed a grievance stating that American Airlines’ promise of 150% pay cannot be guaranteed in the current contract.
If you have plans to travel by airplane this December, it may be wise to research your options before booking your flight.