American Airlines May Have Further Sabotaged Their Operation With One Scheduling Mistake

Without enough staff to run published schedules, and with a lot knowledge about how to run an airline lost when carriers shed staff during the pandemic, operations have melted down across the industry.

Summer travel is peak travel. American Airlines knew it had a problem without very much margin in pilots this month so they turned off the ability for some of their pilots to trade trips even when they had someone ready to take their place.

At least that’s what they meant to do. They updated the trip trade system making it possible for pilots to drop all of their trips. My. God. As aviation watchdog JonNYC reports 2000 flight sequences and 37,000 hours of flying were dropped into ‘open time’:

AA -huge- OOOPS: pic.twitter.com/ooeDSfDcHc

— 🇺🇦 JonNYC 🇺🇦 (@xJonNYC) July 2, 2022

This time it appears over 500 trips were dropped when TTOT ran 😵‍💫

— 🇺🇦 JonNYC 🇺🇦 (@xJonNYC) July 2, 2022

Already today American Airlines has cancelled 2% of its flights and delayed 11% more despite going into the holiday weekend taking extreme precautions. They cancelled 3% of flights yesterday while nearly 30% of flights were delayed. It appears American is scrambling to fix this, arguing that the trips should simply be re-instated – something the pilots union says violates their contract. American can probably impose the fix, he most pilots can do is grieve it, and that’s going to cost the airline some money.

Coming on top of challenging operations already this is a problem, even if the trips are successfully re-assigned to their original pilots. Unhappy pilots are bad for a reliable operation (something American Airlines learned well enough a decade ago, when pilots contributed to the demise of the airline’s CEO and current management’s success in taking over the airline).

I’ve reached out to the airline for comment and will update if they provide a statement on how they plan to fix the issue.

Update 2:53 p.m. Eastern: American shares that the following was sent out to their pilots,

We have become aware of a technical issue with our Trip Trade with Open Time System (TTOT). We have temporarily suspended TTOT and our Trip Trade System (TTS) while we work to identify and address the issue. We understand these are important tools for our pilots and are working as quickly as possible. We will provide updates throughout the day as we learn more.

Update 4:27 p.m. Eastern: American Airlines offers,

Our pilot trip trading system experienced a technical issue. As a result of this technical glitch, certain trip trading transactions were able to be processed when it shouldn’t have been permitted. We already have restored the vast majority of the affected trips and do not anticipate any operational impact because of this issue.

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