An IT glitch gave too many American Airlines pilots Christmas off so the airline has been offering time and a half to anyone with an accidental vacation who’ll pick up a shift.
That’s gotten huge media play over the last 24 hours, with concern that plenty of Christmas flights would be cancelled.
American just put out a release saying the problem is mostly taken care of already.
- “Out of the 200,000 flights American will operate in December, only a few hundred are currently unassigned to pilots.” 500 would be one quarter of one percent of flights, a number the airline will wind up cancelling anyway. But this is a bit disingenuous because it’s not the entire month that’s a concern, it’s the Christmas holiday. The percentage of flights involved would be higher using a more accurate denominator.
- “That number of open flights continues to decrease thanks to our pilots who are stepping up to the plate and picking up trips to ensure customers are taken care of. It’s another example of why we are thankful to have such an incredible team.” They expect the number of pilotless flights to shrink. Pilots themselves are the audience for the sentence as much as customers. If other pilots are picking up flights, there’s no reason not to do it. Anyone hoping to embarrass American or hold out for even more pay needn’t bother, they’ll just miss out.
- “In addition, we have more reserve pilots on hand in December than normal months and they provide us with the ability to fly many of the trips that are currently uncovered.” We will have enough pilots, but maybe we won’t, but still don’t worry.
- “We have not canceled any scheduled flights in December and will continue to work to ensure both our pilots and our customers are cared for.” ‘Yet.’ We never plan that far in advance, but if you’re stuck thanks to us remember that your credit card company may cover your trip delay costs such as hotel.
American Airlines gave employees unilateral raises. Now they’re paying pilots more to come to work. And since American Airlines will never lose money again and they’re currently at the bottom end of the $3 to $7 billion annual profit range they’re promising investors, they will need to make up the cost somewhere. You are somewhere.