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Nov 30

Your American Airlines Flight Isn’t Getting Cancelled

I caught a headline today that seems to be throwing a few people for a loop. But don’t worry, your flight’s in good shape.

The Dallas Morning News reported that American Airlines had a scheduling glitch that could result in the cancellation of thousands of flights around the holidays. And while that definitely sounds bad, you likely don’t have much of a reason to worry.

When airlines schedule pilots, a certain amount of overtime is assumed. Pilots don’t work 40-hour weeks, nor should they, given the intensity of their jobs. There are generally reserve pilots, as well. In this particular case, the glitch occurred by allowing pilots to drop flights without ensuring that there would be back-up. Thus, certain flights were left unstaffed.

The problem will get solved, but the fact that it is even an issue reflects a recurring problem in the industry, which is the consistent conflict between management and labor. The battles occur on several levels, including within competing unions at any given airline. The industry has traditionally been cyclical, which means big raises during the boom times and employee givebacks during the bad times. Thus, both sides often fight their battles in public, not with the intention of changing anyone’s minds, but rather, appealing to their respective constituents. In this case, the unions are pushing for increased overtime compensation for their members.

Here’s what you need to know, though: The problem will get solved. No airline can afford the publicity that would come with cancelling Christmas vacation. But you’ll probably read more about it before the solution gets announced.


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