Feud Between Pilots, AA Impacting Passengers

Passengers upset by delays over write-ups

By Kendra Lyn
|  Monday, Sep 24, 2012  |  Updated 1:32 PM EDT
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More flights canceled on Monday as travelers try to get around on American Airlines.

Kendra Lyn, NBC 5 News

More flights canceled on Monday as travelers try to get around on American Airlines.

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There’s more fallout Monday in the feud between American Airlines and pilots. The company said the feud is impacting passengers as well as other American employees forced to pick up the slack.

The number of flight cancellations are worse than expected, topping 400 flights cut in the past week.  The latest numbers from flightstats.com show 156 American cancellations on Monday, 40 from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

“We sat on the runway for an hour-and-a-half,” said American Airlines passenger Tiffany Brendum.

Brendum is on standby trying to take off from DFW with her 8-year-old son, Jacob. She says her Friday flight here from Chicago was delayed after the pilot reported a series of problems. 

“It’s inconveniencing mechanics to come out from the hangar, come out to sign-off on it. First, it was tire pressure, then it was a fuel leak. I don’t think those are the problems, I think pilots are striking in a different way,” said Brendum.

“First of all, we apologize to all of our customers for this inconvenience this has caused. We understand how irritating and unfortunate this is, interrupting or delaying travel plans. We appreciate their patience and hope for their understanding. We also appreciate very much the difficult work this has caused so many of our people, especially appreciate the fabulous job our maintenance crews have been doing, taking care of these additional write-ups,” said American Airlines spokesman Bruce Hicks.

Hicks told NBC 5 that mechanics have been working overtime to meet demand after pilots have filed an unprecedented number of maintenance write-ups in the past two weeks.

To meet demand, the company has also brought in crews from Tulsa to supplement staffing to get planes back on schedule.

“It’s not fair to the passengers, and it’s not fair to staffing here,” said Brendum.

The company said it’s “all hands on deck” for other employees dealing with the backlash from the cancellations. 

“Airport agents are fully staffed to assist with the customer inconvenience issues, including helping reroute customers from last-minute cancellations. Our reservations personnel are hard at work re-accommodating customers from the flights that are part of the 1-2 percent service reduction through October. And flight attendants are, of course, doing a really great job dealing with customer complaints from the significant increase in delayed flights,” Hicks said.

The Allied Pilots Association insists that pilots are writing up legitimate issues. 

“No pilot in his right mind would falsely make a logbook entry,” said Tom Hoban from the APA.

The pilots’ union blames the cancellations on an aging fleet of aircraft, delayed maintenance and layoffs for what it calls an “operational disaster.” The pilots insist, they want to get off the ground like everyone else. 

“The pilots aren’t paid until the aircraft is pushed off the gate. We’re dealing with the same frustrations you are. We want to see the aircraft safely in operation,” said Hoban.

Still, some passengers don’t sympathize with the pilots.

“They need to get over themselves and realize it’s not just affecting them, it’s affecting everyone,” said Brendum.

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