American Airlines scrambles for pilots after glitch allows overlapped vacation days

1 year 10 months 2 weeks ago Wednesday, November 29 2017 Nov 29, 2017 Wednesday, November 29, 2017 9:31:00 PM CST November 29, 2017 in News
By: Stephanie Sandoval, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - A computer glitch at American Airlines has put thousands of flights in jeopardy for the month of December. Thousands of flights either don’t have a captain, co-pilot or both. 

In a statement from American Airlines, it said it’s working to fix the issue: 

“We are working diligently to address the issue and expect 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 (Allied Pilots Association) to take care of our pilots and ensure we get our customers to where they need to go over the holidays.”

The APA, which represents 15,000 professional pilots who fly for American Airlines, posted a note on its website Tuesday about the system failure:

“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.” 

According to the APA’s Twitter account, a spokesman said this is “certainly not routine.”

“This is a crisis right now, and in that crisis, [American Airlines has] gone solo,” Captain Dennis Tajer said, a spokesman for APA. 

American Airlines is one of the main companies that fly in and out of the Columbia Regional Airport.

Most people, after getting off their flight Wednesday night, said they didn't know about the computer error until KOMU 8 News told them. 

However, one person from Seattle said this is a very strange thing that's happened -- especially for a big corporation like American Airlines. In general, he said this is a corporate problem. 
 
"It sounds like a bit of non-communication and maybe some non-participation," Simon Dorfman said.
Another American Airlines customer said this is unacceptable.
"They shouldn't pay the pilots to come back because of the mistake of the computer," Taj Dirar, from New York City, said. "They shouldn't pay them. They should explain the mistake to the pilot."
Dirar believes pilots should face some sort of penalty if they refuse to work during the week of Christmas.
As of right now, it's unclear how many flights will be affected by the lack pilots during the holiday season. 
(Editor's note: This story has been updated with more information.)

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