American Airlines, Union Put an End to Holiday Pilot Dilemma

Passengers no longer have to worry about their travel plans after brief scheduling mistake.

American Airlines
American Airlines and the Allied Pilots Association came to terms on a solution for a computer glitch leaving as many as 15,000 flights without crews.American Airlines

The headline was almost “The glitch that stole Christmas.”

American Airlines and the Allied Pilots Association were at odds last week over a computer error that allowed all of the company's pilots to take time off for the holidays. While the airline downplayed the problem, the union claimed that as many as 15,000 flights were potentially without pilots and crews, which would have resulted in major headaches for passengers.

As a solution, American was calling on reserve pilots to fill holes and pilots who had already taken time off were being offered 150 percent pay; however, APA filed a grievance over that solution, claiming that it wouldn’t be able to enforce the extra pay under its contract. Fortunately, after both sides vowed to work together to find a quick fix, APA announced on Sunday that an official solution had been reached.

“Over the last several days APA and AA management have been working to find a solution to cover the greater than normal level of open time made available due to the TTOT processing error,” the union’s statement reads. “We’ve reached an agreement that we believe will ensure that our customers’ holiday travel plans are not disrupted while also recognizing our pilots’ extra efforts to help resolve this challenge.”

Instead of the proposed 150 percent pay, pilots will receive 200 percent. The entire breakdown of the agreement is available here.

Following a strong backlash on social media, American officials were also quick to assure their customers last Friday that the holidays were saved.

“Earlier this week, American Airlines shared that a processing error resulted in some concern as to whether our flights over the December holidays would have adequate pilot staffing,” the airline’s statement explained. “We are pleased to report that together, American and the Allied Pilots Association have put that worry to rest to make sure our flights will operate as scheduled. By working together, we can assure customers that among the many stresses of the season, worrying about a canceled flight won’t be one of them. In short, if Santa is flying, so is American.”