American Airlines ‘glitch’ allows all pilots to take vacation over Christmas week; cancellations possible

FORT WORTH, Texas -- 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.

According to Bloomberg, too many pilots were granted time off during the month of December. The Allied Pilots Association, the union that represents over 15,000 American Airlines pilots, sent a message to its members on Tuesday:

"On Friday, management disclosed a failure within the pilot schedule bidding system. As a result, thousands of flights currently do not have pilots assigned to fly them during the upcoming critical holiday period. Today, management issued an update detailing the “significant holes” in the operation and unilaterally invoked a solution for crewing affected flights."

The glitch apparently allowed all pilots to take vacation over Christmas week, according to WJLA.

According to a statement from the union, the incident and the airline's offering for fixing the situation is "in direct violation" of union contracts. It has filed a grievance.

In a tweet, American Airlines said they are working to fix the problem and expect to avoid cancellations. It is taking to Twitter to reassure people that their vacation plans are important to the airline, which does not anticipate any flight schedule changes.

The airline's media relations team also sent this statement to WHNT News 19:

“We are working diligently to address the issue and expect to avoid cancellations this holiday season. We have reserve pilots to help cover flying in December, and we are paying pilots who pick up certain open trips 150 percent of their hourly rate – as much as we are allowed to pay them per the contract. We will work with the APA to take care of our pilots and ensure we get our customers to where they need to go over the holidays.”

A company memo obtained by Bloomberg said flights scheduled without a captain and/or first officer originate from Dallas, Boston, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City and Charlotte.

American Airlines offers many flights through Huntsville International Airport, showing current departures to and arrivals from Charlotte, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Dallas/Fort Worth.

The airline has since tweeted multiple concerned customers a link to sign up for flight updates: