American Airlines has been scrambling to find aviators that can fill in last-minute and save its customers' holidays after a system glitch left more than 15,000 December flights without scheduled pilots.
"Basically there's a crisis at American for manning the cockpits," said Dennis Tajer, a spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, which serves as American Airlines' pilot union.
The affected flights had been scheduled between Dec. 17 and Dec. 31. Those holiday dates were no coincidence, as the glitch was related to the program that allows pilots to bid on time off based on seniority.
To remedy the situation, the airline quickly dug deeper into its pilot roster and broke out some serious incentives.
"We have reserve pilots to help cover flying in December, and we are paying pilots who pick up certain open trips 150 per cent of their hourly rate—as much as we are allowed to pay them per the contract," said Matt Miller, a spokesman for American Airlines.
And it appears that strategy has paid off. Barely 24 hours after news of the shortage broke, it was reported that the number of unmanned flights has dropped to just "a few hundred."
"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," said Miller.
So anyone who was ready to use that trip cancellation can breathe a big sigh of relief, since it doesn't look like they'll be needing it.