WASHINGTON - Thousands of American Airlines flights around the holidays are reportedly in jeopardy after a scheduling glitch.
The Allied Pilots Association, the union that represents pilots for the carrier, said there was an issue within the pilot schedule bidding system, resulting in thousands of flights not having pilots assigned to fly them over the holidays.
According to Gregg Overman, the communications director for the Allied Pilots Association, there are 15,000 American Airlines flights that are not fully crewed under the current schedule between Dec. 17 and Dec. 31.
The issue left American Airlines scrambling to come up with a solution, one in which the union says violates the contracts of pilots.
"We are working diligently to address the issue and expect to avoid cancellations this holiday season. We have reserve pilots to help cover flying in December, and we are paying pilots who pick up certain open trips 150 percent of their hourly rate - as much as we are allowed to pay them per the contract. 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," American Airlines said in a written statement.
The Allied Pilots Association said it was filing a grievance over the matter.
Options are quite limited for fliers. Experts say the only alternative plan in this situation is to buy a refundable ticket for a flight scheduled a few hours after your American Airlines flight. If American is able to get you boarded and flown to your destination, you should be able to cancel your backup flight at the last minute. However, it is an expensive backup plan and you also need to do your homework.
"Southwest doesn't really have a penalty for canceling," said Paul Hudson of FlyersRights.org. "You can use that ticket for another flight up to a year. But all the other airlines pretty much have change fees that pretty much eat up whatever you would pay unless you get what is called a refundable ticket."
"Refundable tickets are very expensive so that will be a multi-thousand-dollar investment in order to make that happen, but if you really can't afford to lose the money on that big cruise or that big tour that you purchased already, that is pretty much the only way to go right now," said Mike MacNair of Direct Travel.
As far as travel insurance, it may be already too late to get it now on your ticket since this is already a known situation. But if you have it already, it is something to check on as well.