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American Airlines Gave Too Many Pilots The Holidays Off And Now They Are Screwed

Yes, I am serious, and don't call me Shirley.

Posted on November 29, 2017, at 3:24 p.m. ET

American Airlines is scrambling after a reported scheduling glitch accidentally gave too many of its pilots time off for the holidays — leaving 15,000 flights without enough crew.

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

The snafu was due to a "failure within the pilot schedule bidding system," said the Allied Pilots Association, the airline pilot union, in a statement to its members.

"As a result, thousands of flights currently do not have pilots assigned to fly them during the upcoming critical holiday period," it said.

Dennis Tajer, the group's spokesperson, told Bloomberg they estimate the number of affected flights at more than 15,000 in the critical holiday travel period of Dec. 17 to Dec. 31.

American Airlines didn't specify the cause of the shortage or exactly how many flights would be affected, but acknowledged they were scrambling to "address the issue."

“We are working diligently to address the issue and expect to avoid cancellations this holiday season," said American Airlines in a statement to BuzzFeed News. "We are paying pilots who pick up certain open trips 150 percent of their hourly rate."

Daniel Slim / AFP / Getty Images

However, the union has filed a grievance against the airline, stating this violates pilot contracts.

"Because management unilaterally created their solution in violation of the contract, neither [the union] nor the contract can guarantee the promised payment of the premium being offered," said the Allied Pilots Association (APA) in a statement.

"We will work with the APA to take care of our pilots and ensure we get our customers to where they need to go over the holidays,” said the airline in its statement.

As soon as word got out about the error, people had many, many jokes.

There were a lot of Airplane! jokes.

Where's co-pilot Roger Murdock?

@SweeneyABC @Bencjacobs Karim Abdul Jabbar is available

"There's no reason to become alarmed, and we hope you'll enjoy the rest of your flight. By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?"

@SweeneyABC when the new pilots volunteer and end up flying through the snow storm during tht christmas break lmao

Some people had other alternate pilot ideas.

@SweeneyABC No worries, I know a guy @SnoopDogg

Wouldn't mind these guys.


@SweeneyABC @AllbrightNFL I found a great pilot who said he would help fill in.

Others mused about what American Airlines is feeling.

American Airlines realizing all their pilots took vacation during Christmas week

"Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue."

@SweeneyABC @texasinafrica Meanwhile at American Airlines IT Dept....

It's the glitch that stole Christmas! Happy 2017!

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.