If you’ve flown more than a handful of times, chances are you’ve experienced some type of problem moving from Point A to B. While local incidents can be absorbed by the airline system as a whole, a sharp delay or major problem at one airport can lead to cascading delays and cancellations across the country, as flights are rerouted and passenger manifests shuffled to try and keep everyone moving towards their destinations. Christmas is a particularly tough problem from a scheduling perspective, and American Airlines just made a mistake that could make holiday travel difficult-to-impossible for hundreds of thousands of people.
Normally, American Airlines pilots bid for time off based on their seniority. This time, however, a computer glitch allowed every single pilot to take time off — which means AA is missing pilots for an estimated 15,000 flights.
American is offering up to 150 percent in overtime pay to pilots who are willing to come back to fly routes, while also tapping its reserve pilot lists to cover flights. The company and the Allied Pilots Association are in negotiations on terms that would meet the needs of both groups while remaining in-line with a just-negotiated contract between American and its pilots.
“Basically there’s a crisis at American for manning the cockpits,” Dennis Tajer, a spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, told Reuters.
There are strict legal requirements on how much rest pilots are required to receive, in addition to any requirements of the airlines themselves. On domestic flights, pilots must receive at least 10 hours of rest per 24 hour period, including at least eight hours for uninterrupted sleep. Pilots are also limited to 8 or 9 hours of flying time per 24 hour day, though this can be extended if the pilot receives a larger rest period at the end of the flight to compensate for this extending shift. The reason for these rules is simple: Airline pilots literally have the lives of hundreds of other people in their hands when they fly, to say nothing of anyone on the ground. These requirements may make it harder for American Airlines to flesh out an alternative duty roster for various flights if it can’t persuade pilots to come back in.
American is hoping to avoid canceling any flights, but keep an eye on things if you’re planning to travel this Christmas. If AA can’t staff every flight, consumers will quickly leap for other airlines to make up the slack. Seating space could be hard to come by, come late December.
Published at Thu, 30 Nov 2017 14:16:40 +0000