Holiday travel delays are so common they’re practically tradition, but no one expected the curveball that might stymie travelers trying to head home for the holidays. American Airlines had a backend glitch that allowed pilots to request time off for Christmas, and it could cause a major crunch on flights. The pilots’ union is backing up their right to keep their requested vacation time, but American Airlines is desperate enough to offer time and half pay to get someone in the cockpit.
The quick rundown: Pilots are usually able to bid on their schedules, and in this case the system somehow allowed pilots to make time off requests for what is one of the year’s busiest travel seasons, between December 17th and New Year’s Eve. The glitch could lead to the cancellation of hundreds of flights out of some of the nation’s busiest airports. Those likely to be impacted include Dallas-Fort Worth, Boston, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City and Charlotte, NC.
The only recourse is to find pilots who can pick up the extra slack, which gets tricky given the number of regulations put on how much pilots can work and how their shifts must be structured. American Airlines must also be careful not to violate any rules set by the Allied Pilots Association in the pilots’ contracts, too.
American Airlines spokesman Matt Miller explained the situation simply by saying: “We are working through this to make sure we take care of our pilots and get our customers to where they need to go over the holidays.”
Perhaps now would be a good time to re-watch Planes, Trains, and Automobiles and I’ll Be Home for Christmas to get yourself in the holiday travel delay spirit. You could pick up some classic tips for how to get where you’re going, even if your intended flight is grounded.