Union: Thousands of American Airlines flights have no pilots after schedule glitch


American Airlines says a computer glitch allowed too many pilots to take vacation in December, resulting in several flights not having enough crew on the schedule, according to a statement from the union representing the airline's pilots.

Flights that are scheduled without a captain, first officer or both originate from Dallas-Fort Worth International, American's largest hub, and airports in Boston, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City and Charlotte, North Carolina, according to a company memo to the union, Bloomberg News reports. However, the union says American's proposal would be in violation of the group's overtime rules.

But it's bad news if you booked it with American Airlines.

It was not immediately clear how pilots would be assigned to the remaining flights, or whether any flights will be cancelled, but the union said American's plan to do so violated union contracts.

The system error was disclosed to pilots on Friday, the union said.

"We have reserve pilots to help cover flying in December, and we are paying pilots who pick up certain open trips 150% of their hourly rate". American spokesman Matt Miller declined to quantify the potential number of flights involved, saying the airline expects to correct the problem and avoid cancellations.

"I'm watching a "Grinch that stole Christmas" thing happening", a spokesman told Reuters. "As a result, thousands of flights now do not have pilots assigned to fly them during the upcoming critical holiday period", the union stated.

"This is certainly not routine", Tajer said.