American Airlines canceled or delayed more than 2,000 flights over Halloween weekend. Is this another labor issue or just weather?
***Updated: 10:13 EDT October 31, 2021***
American Airlines Delays, Cancels 2,000+ Flights Halloween Weekend
Delays and cancellations on Friday, Saturday, and (proactively) on Sunday plagued American Airlines. The company issued a statement,
“With additional weather throughout the system, our staffing begins to run tight as crew members end up out of their regular flight sequences,” American said in a statement to CNN.
Windy conditions limited Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport departures and arrivals to just two runways, a dramatic reduction from the hub’s (7) runways. Charlotte also experienced issues over the weekend. The issue amounted to flight disruptions of nearly one in three flights from the carrier across the network over Halloween weekend.
By Saturday night, 248 AA flights on Sunday had been canceled. With tight flight schedules and crew limitations, customer service issues will likely continue throughout the day as more domestic flights are canceled. At the time of the last update, the number had climbed to 634 cancellations, (12% of the schedule) before lunchtime.
Mirrors Southwest Airlines
Didn’t we just see this movie? Southwest blamed delays over a troubling weekend earlier in October on “ATC”, weather, and crew issues. initially, that statement by Southwest’s PR team was rebuffed as other carriers flying into Florida had few issues with ATC or bad weather.
This batch of flight delays and cancellations appears to be less controversial but still raises eyebrows and questions as the incidents are eerily similar.
Vaccine Mandate Protest or Not?
American Airlines and Southwest Airlines both have challenges from their labor groups over a variety of issues, but the two Dallas carriers were the only pair to have employee demonstrations outside their headquarters related to the vaccine mandate. However, United had some pilots sue for an injunction to stop or pause the company mandate. SWAPA, the Southwest pilot union, fought the mandate in court but lost.
If it were a labor action against the mandate, the American pilots were much less coordinated than what Southwest appears to have been and unlike the Southwest situation, the anecdotal reports from American pilots have not been public as Southwest employees were.
There were also some substantial weather issues that affected a number of airlines this weekend though not to the same extent as American. It could be a combination of weather and a smaller protest, or it could corroborate Southwest’s statement that planes out of place mean that crews are out of place too.
While there’s room for speculation with Southwest’s cancellation event, weather, and tighter crew bases leaves little room for error. It seems that in the case of American Airlines this weekend, weather issues and crew positioning appears to be the most likely cause.
American Airlines had a substantial flight disruption over Halloween weekend 2o21. The event appeared to mirror Southwest’s meltdown and American Airlines, like Southwest, has faced employee backlash over vaccine mandates for employees. However, similar delays from other airlines in the same airport markets, weather data, and a known labor limitation appear to have combined to make a troublesome weekend for the carrier and its customers.
What do you think? Were you on a delayed or canceled American Airlines flight over the weekend? Have you seen any evidence to counter the weather claim? Does this corroborate Southwest’s claim and discredit arguments that there was labor action during the Southwest incident?