American Airlines experienced one of its worst technical glitches during one of the busiest US travelling days of the year. The glitch, resulting in the scheduling system failing, forced the airline to cancel thousands of trips this month. So what exactly happened?
On Sunday, American Airlines announced that it had been subject to a technical malfunction issue on its pilot trading system. The system allows pilots to increase, drop or swap certain flights. The glitch saw more than 12,000 flights due to depart between Sunday and the end of the month cancelled or wiped out because there were now no pilots or first officers to fly some of the planes.
In a statement by the Allied Pilots Association, the company’s union said that the failure of the system resulted in thousands of passengers being left without flights because of these staffing issues.
The issue was fixed quickly with American Airlines explaining in a statement that it had “restored the vast majority of the affected trips and do not anticipate any operational impact because of this issue.” However, the same spokesperson could not confirm specific details about the flights that had been completely cancelled and those who had been put back on service.
Matt Miller, a spokesperson for the airline explained, “As a result of this technical glitch, certain trip trading transactions were able to be processed when it shouldn't have been permitted." The company did not respond to a follow-up question about whether the technical issue had been fixed but for the moment it seems that everything is more or less back to normal.
However, this is not the first instance of the airline experiencing technical failures that have impacted scheduling. In December 2021, the airline had a similar malfunction that threatened to cancel 15,000 flights filled with passengers trying to get home for the festive period.
The timing of this malfunction could not have been worse due to the Independence Day travel chaos. Hundreds of flights had already been cancelled and thousands of passengers had faced delays on Friday whilst they tried to get home or abroad to celebrate the holiday.
Recently, the airline has come under some criticism with pilots urging their employer to address scheduling issues and renegotiate their contracts. Last week, Dennis Tajer, a pilot for the airlines said that recent cancellations were due to failings by the airline to schedule pilots effectively with some being overworked and others under.
Whatever the reason for the malfunction it seems like the issue has been resolved. This will no doubt be a major blow to the airline as hundreds of passengers were left stranded not knowing if a pilot could be allocated to their flight. But for now, it looks like American Airlines have managed to get through by the skin of their teeth.
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