Flying American Airlines in July? Check your reservation for possible flight changes.
The airline slashed nearly 1,000 flights from its July schedule over the weekend to give it more breathing room as the travel surge and other factors strain its operation.
“We never want to disappoint, and feel these schedule adjustments will help ensure we can take good care of our customers and team members and minimize surprises at the airport,” American spokeswoman Andrea Koos said in a statement.
Most of the proactive cancellations are for the first half of the month and amount to 1% of the flights that were planned, the airline said. Travelers were automatically rebooked on other flights, but that often means different departure times, an unplanned connection or inconvenient routing and other hassles. Those with upcoming travel plans should check the status of their flight, so there are no surprises in July.
Passengers whose departure times were changed by more than four hours are eligible for a refund instead of a travel credit.
American disrupted passengers’ travel plans in droves during the busy Father’s Day weekend and into Monday.
On Sunday, the airline canceled 188 flights, or 6% of its scheduled flights, and more than half of all cancellations on flights to, from or within the USA, according to flight tracker FlightAware. Southwest Airlines, which struggled with heavy delays and flight cancellations last week, had the second most cancellations among U.S. carriers – 38, or 1%, of its flights scratched.
American delayed 755, or one in four, flights Sunday, according to FlightAware.
In total, the airline canceled 500 flights over the weekend, Koos said. She blamed the troubles on a variety of factors, including bad weather Sunday in Miami and Chicago, two of its hubs, and a labor shortage among some of its vendors.
The cancellations continued Monday – 136 as of midday – before bad weather at its megahub in Dallas. Southwest, which also has a large operation in Dallas, canceled 200 Monday flights.
Stranded American passenger: Two canceled flights and toiletries from Walmart
Jay Wiggs flew American from Dallas to San Diego for vacation a week ago and had no issues on the flight out.
Getting home took more than 24 hours and extra expenses.
The property manager and his wife were due to leave San Diego on Saturday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. As soon as they got to the airport, the American app on his phone kept buzzing about flight delays. At 8 p.m., he turned to his wife and said, “I guarantee they’re going to cancel this flight. Sure enough, it wasn’t five minutes later. They canceled the flight.”
They were rebooked on an 8 a.m. flight to Dallas the next day. Wiggs said he asked where they were supposed to sleep that night and was told there were no vouchers within a 10-mile radius and to save his receipts.
They rented a another car and returned to their original hotel because they had paid for a week but stayed only six nights and fortunately hadn’t checked out when they left.
Before bed that night, Wiggs’ Sunday morning flight was canceled. The American app gave him several new flights to pick from, but they had bizarre routings with layovers in Philadelphia and Charlotte, North Carolina.
They couldn’t reach anyone by phone for help amid hours-long wait times, so they settled on a more direct flight Monday to Dallas and headed to Walmart to get toiletries and shorts since their luggage was at the airport. The tab: about $100.
They kept checking the American app for earlier options and found a Sunday evening flight via Phoenix.
They arrived in Dallas just after midnight, but their bags weren’t there. The app indicated they arrived on an earlier flight but didn’t say where they were.
“They’re at DFW (Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport),” Wiggs said. “I just don’t know where yet.”
American union blames pilot shortage for airline’s flight woes
American’s pilot union puts most of the blame for the airline’s operational woes on a shortage of pilots due to a training backlog caused by the pandemic.
Dennis Tajer, an American pilot and spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, said many of the canceled flights over the weekend were due to crew shortages, according to codes the airline assigns to canceled flights.
Pilots who were furloughed or took leaves of absence during the pandemic have to be retrained as do those changing aircraft type after American’s aggressive retirement of several planes during the pandemic and those replacing pilots who took early retirement, he said.
“That’s multiple tsunamis on a training system,” he said.
He said the shortage leaves American without a buffer when bad weather or other anomalies strike, forcing flight crews to time out.
“You can’t plan an airline based on clear skies,” he said.
Tajer said the union has proposed some fixes, in addition to overtime pay in place, including more flexible crew scheduling for pilots who want to “help out” the airline and make extra money.
Koos said the airline’s pilot training “remains on track,” and the airline expects all recalled pilots to complete training by the end of June.