I guess we should not be surprised by yesterday’s breathless, widespread reporting about how an airline glitch (or shall I say grinch!) was going to ruin everyone’s Christmas. A negative airline story always plays well during peak holiday season when air travel is top of mind.
My pat answer when the media called for an opinion about the American Airlines scheduling mess? “I’m sure this will be worked out. Too much money is at stake during peak holiday season. And money talks!”
And sure enough, American’s debacle was worked out. And quickly. This morning the carrier released the following statement.
Out of the 200,000 flights American will operate in December, only a few hundred are currently unassigned to pilots. 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. 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 have not canceled any scheduled flights in December and will continue to work to ensure both our pilots and our customers are cared for.
Glitches happen. Companies fix them. As SNL’s Emily Litella says in this video, “Never mind.”
Airlines and travelers now have the holiday travel drill down. There were few if any horror stories over Thanksgiving– as a matter of fact, this week airlines are boasting about their best Thanksgiving performance ever!
About the only grinch that could steal holiday joy this year is a bad storm that hits a big hub airport, or New York City. We’ll be watching out for that!
Update: American Airlines pilots are now disputing the carrier’s claims that only a few hundred flights are unassigned. Their union says that the number is still in the thousands. However, American Airlines says that it does not expect any cancellations in December due to the mix up. This is starting to sound more like a public airing of grievances between the airline and its pilots union than an operational issue travelers need to worry about.