Families across America fear major setbacks this holiday season. An estimate of 46% of American Airlines customers said they have plans to fly in December. Unfortunately, these plans may come to an end. Each year pilots enter a schedule bidding system in hopes of getting holiday vacation. To give the lucky pilots enough time to plan their free time, the bidding takes place before the country gets into full holiday mode. Last Friday, 15,000 pilots entered their bids, but on Wednesday the airline realized that the bidding system played “Santa,” as was a bit too generous.

A glitch occurred, granting too many pilots the vacation times they put on their wishlist. Many of these pilots thought they got lucky this year. They had five days to plan their vacation before they realized that this luck was too good to be true. Flights scheduled between the dates of December 17th to December 31st are in danger of cancellation. That’s peak flying time! Glitches and mistakes in large companies occur and are anticipated Back in September and October, a European airline, Ryanair, experienced a similar mix up resulting in the cancellation of 1,200 flights. Airlines are usually prepared to accommodate passengers in these situations, but the timing of American Airline’s glitch puts them in a desperate position. The managing partner at trade publication Airline Weekly explains that “during the holiday season, there is not a lot of margin for error.” Rescheduling customer’s trips through other airlines is a challenge as flights during this time of year are nearly full. Talk about a holiday disaster! The airline is even calling pilots from their reserve, which by contract, are obligated to be paid 1.5 their hourly rate. Although this may be a costly fix, it seems like the only solution.

Not only will customers be out of luck if flights are canceled; crew members will not be able to put in the hours they expected to during this month. American Airlines has three weeks to get their backup plan in line. Spokeswoman Alex Aran Coello assures that American Airlines is “working hard to ensure that we get our customers where they’re going.”

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