Internet Culture

American Airlines glitch let all pilots take vacay for holidays

Hundreds of flights are in jeopardy, but the airline is offering incentives to pilots and relying on "reserve" crews to avoid cancellations.

This may not be you come Christmas.
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Good news, you already booked your flight for the holidays. But it's bad news if you booked it with American Airlines. 

A computer glitch at the company, one of the largest airlines in the world, apparently allowed all its pilots to take vacation during the busy holiday travel time. 

The system is supposed to let pilots bid for vacation time based on seniority, according to a report from CBS in Dallas. But that's not how it worked out.

"As a result, thousands of flights currently do not have pilots assigned to fly them during the upcoming critical holiday period," the pilot's union, called the Allied Pilot's Association, said in a statement Tuesday. 

American, for its part, said in a statement that it's offering pilots 150 percent of their hourly wage to work some shifts over the holidays and that it plans to work with the pilot's union to help resolve the issue. It also said Thursday it's been able to reduce the number of unassigned flights to "only a few hundred" out of the 200,000 flights planned in December. Additionally, it hasn't cancelled any of those flights yet. 

So on top of making sure your kid isn't stuck home alone or that the Grinch hasn't stolen Christmas, you may still have to worry about whether your airplane will take off. Considering that 30 million people are expected to take to the skies for the holidays this year, that's a lot of potentially ruined holidays.

First published Nov. 29, 11:53 a.m. PT.
Update Nov. 29, 1:30 p.m.: Adds comment from American Airlines.
Update, Nov. 30, 11:40 a.m.: Adds additional comment from American Airlines.

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