15,000 American Airlines December Flights Have No Pilots

This is going to be a quick post, since December is in less than 2 days, I thought I’d get this notice out there as quickly as possible.

Yes, you read the title correctly, there are over 15,000 American Airlines flights in December that are without pilots assigned because of scheduling glitch. Basically, American Airlines allowed too many pilots to take vacation at the same time. My understanding is that the system approved too many vacations clustered around Christmas time and did not account for the lack of available pilots.

This is obviously not a great time of the year, with the holiday season fast approaching, to have this issue.

They are now offering their pilots 150% their salary to cancel their vacation so that they can fly the planes. I wonder who is going to pick up that bill in the end?

So if you are scheduled to fly with American Airlines, you may want to brace yourself for a cancellation of your flight, as they may not find a pilot in time.


  1. NOW is the time to start moving your travel around and away from AA…either that or get ready to put some quality time in sleeping on that terrazzo floor at ORD. If you’re an AA gate agent and only have a year or two in, this may be a good time to put your two weeks notice in. If this is even half as bad as it looks, this is going to be hell.

  2. Ha, ha, welcome to hyperbole land. AA has, what, 7,000 flights per day? So we’re looking at over 200k flights a month. 15k represents 7%. With this much lead time I’m sure they’ll be just fine. For critical dates they will work the schedule down a bit I’m sure and pay 3x to get some interest to fill the remaining flights. There are 22 flights on Christmas Day from NYC airports to MIA. In markets like that I suspect you’ll see lots of flight consolidations.

  3. 15,000 flights…minimum 2 pilots per plane. Throw in the other normal scheduling anomalies like weather, illness and crew switch overs with transit time and mandatory rest periods and it’s a very big problem. Hopefully they can get it worked out successfully.
    What usually ends up happening though, is pressure gets put on the staff willing to come back to help out, until those staff members get burned out.

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