American Airlines ‘Glitch’ Allows All Pilots to Take Vacation Over Christmas Week; Cancellations Possible

FORT WORTH, Texas — American Airlines says a computer glitch allowed too many pilots to take vacation in December, resulting in several flights not having enough crew on the schedule, according to a statement from the union representing the airline’s pilots.

According to Bloomberg, too many pilots were granted time off during the month of December. The Allied Pilots Association, the union that represents over 15,000 American Airlines pilots, sent a message to its members on Tuesday:

“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. Today, management issued an update detailing the “significant holes” in the operation and unilaterally invoked a solution for crewing affected flights.”

The glitch apparently allowed all pilots to take vacation over Christmas week, according to WJLA.

According to a statement from the union, the incident and the airline’s offering for fixing the situation is “in direct violation” of union contracts.

In a tweet, American Airlines said they are working to fix the problem and expect to avoid cancellations:

“We’re working diligently to address the issue and expect to avoid cancellations this holiday season…”

According to Bloomberg, the airline is offering pilots 150 percent of their hourly wage to cover the impacted flights.

A company memo obtained by Bloomberg said flights scheduled without a captain and/or first officer originate from Dallas, Boston, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City and Charlotte.


  • Robert

    So there is nothing in their contract about compensation if their employer cancels a scheduled vacation? 1.5x pay and a additional vacation day per day cancelled is the gold standard for them unions. And, I’m expected to believe pilots themselves had no clue something was amiss? Yea right. Scammers! Companies that require a percentage of work force to be available will have that as part of the contract. So how can it be a violation? Betting a Russian hacked the computerized bidding system in collusion with Trump for sure!

    • JessicaInWilliamsport

      What about compensation for plans that would have to be canceled by the pilots if management canceled their vacation time? Seems to me they’d have to ask for these days off WELL in advance, whose fault is it the “glitch” wasn’t discovered until now? I would think like most employers the airlines would have been working on xmas scheduling back in September/October, they should have discovered it then with plenty of time to rectify the situation and not screw anyone over. As a timekeeper for a unionized workplace that has to have a percentage of people always on staff, I know their contracts have them bid for blocks of time off at least 6 months in advance. Supervisors are responsible for looking at the schedules and approving/disapproving based on staffing. Can’t blame the pilots or the union for this, it was totally a management screw up.


        I believe the report was non computer related. So, human error somehow? No flights, no customers, no jobs…I say suck it up and go to work. I already changed my flights. Had to leave from Jersey instead of Scranton…but hey.

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