American Airlines Bringing In Reserve Pilots After Glitch

BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- American Airlines says it is bringing in reserve crews and offering time and a half to fill shifts after a software glitch allowed pilots to take vacation days over the holidays, when nobody was available to fill in for them.

"Somehow, a programming error occurred that allowed pilots to swap flights in a broader timeframe," Airline industry analyst Henry Harteveldt explained to WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Ben Parker.

That time frame is December 17 through New Year's Eve.

American Airlines isn't saying how many flights are affected, but the Pilot's Union says about 15,000 flights were scheduled without a pilot, co-pilot, or both--including some in Boston. 

The union is calling the situation a potential crisis.

"This has the potential to be a travel nightmare, but it may not be as bad as the union is painting it to be," Harteveldt said. "For one thing, American has 1,500 pilots, and has more than 1,000 of those pilots who are on reserve."

Reserve pilots, by contract, must work when called.

Travellers like Chris from Arizona think the scheduling problem could compound issues over the holidays--an already hectic time.

"It's busy, and it's crazy, and you're always having issues with flights being delayed or cut or cancelled, so this just creates a bigger problem," she said.

The airline said they plan on flying this holiday season, and expect to avoid any cancellations.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Ben Parker reports

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