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American Airlines pilots are taking a holiday.
American Airlines pilots are taking a holiday.

Image: Brandon Wade/American airlines

For American Airlines, a holiday scheduling fail is a nightmare before Christmas.

With Christmastime travel one of the busiest times of the year, it’s not a good look when all your pilots are taking a holiday break. But that’s exactly what happened when a computer glitch for scheduling left thousands of flights pilot-less during the holiday period.

The American Airlines pilot union, Allied Pilots, said in a statement that American “disclosed a failure within the pilot schedule bidding system” on Friday. This week American is reportedly offering 1.5 pay to make up for the dearth of pilots.

The union wrote in its statement that the premium pay on offer isn’t guaranteed, and the group charges that the “solution” is a contract violation.

We’ve reached out to American Airlines for comment about the glitch.

For passengers, this could mean a lot of cancellations if pilots aren’t lured by the higher pay. Looking at last week’s Thanksgiving numbers, that could spoil a lot of holiday cheer.

Ah, this really is the most wonderful time of the year.

UPDATE Wednesday, Nov. 29, 12:34 p.m. PT: American Airlines said in a statement it expects to “avoid cancellations” during the holidays despite the scheduling glitch. Between reserve pilots and paying pilots 150 percent of their hourly rate, the airlines hopes to fill open trips. 

Here’s the full statement: “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.”

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