Thousands of American Airlines flights are currently scheduled with no one to fly them, union says

Posted at 10:21 PM, Nov 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-29 23:17:33-05

A scheduling glitch has left American Airlines without enough pilots and staff during the busy December travel period, the airline's pilot union said on Wednesday.

The Allied Pilots Association (APA) that represents pilots at the country's largest airline said in a statement that it was notified Friday by the carrier of "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," it said.

"I'm in trouble," said American Airlines flyer Peter Hudson. 

Hudson, who flies with American every week, tells ABC Action News that his December 18 flight is now in jeopardy.

"That could be nasty, you know, because people look forward to this every year and I just don't understand how they don't have the ability to pull it back." 

American Airlines said it is working diligently to address the issue and expects 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," American Airlines spokesman Matt Miller said in a statement.

But the pilots' union is urging crews not to take these assignments, because they might violate the union contract.

The airline declined to say how many flights might be impacted by the staff shortages.