American Airlines Contagious Labor Relations Reason for Cancellations and Delays

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There has been a lot press this week about the recent upsurge on flight cancellations and delays on American Airlines. The first major piece was by Scott McCartney who is a WSJ’s columnist.

American Airlines WSJ Blog Article
American Airlines WSJ Blog Article

The labor relations on American Airlines have been in turmoil already for some time. The pilots have been increasingly dissatisfied with the management and would prefer the airline merging with the US Airways.

American Airlines Elite Email About the Delays
American Airlines Elite Email About the Delays

On September 5 this month the bankruptcy court approved the AA’s motion to reject pilots contract and the current delays & cancellations are, according to American Airlines latest email, due to increase in maintenance write ups from pilots very close to departure time. Most of these maintenance issues could be deferred and dealt with some later time.

American Airlines Departures & Arrivals September 20th
American Airlines Departures & Arrivals September 20th

The numbers for yesterday aren’t pretty. American Airlines cancelled 4.5% of its departures. Both the on time departure at 61% and the on time arrival at 51% are very bad.

Also, American Airlines has decided to trim their September & October flight schedule by 1% to 2%, but they haven’t released a list of canceled flights.

Here’s what an American Airlines is willing to do Gold/Platinum/Executive Platinum members in case of delays of 1 hour or more:

1. Arrange other fight even on competing carrier

2. Receive a refund

If you do not have status with American Airlines, the airline is currently promising the following:

1. Ability to standby for earlier flights

And if your flight has been delayed by more than two hours:

2. Accommodate on other carrier

3. Receive full refund

4. Change your plans without fees

What you should do to avoid being caught with the turmoil?

1. Sign up for email alerts regarding your flights.

2. Check the flight status online using my itineraries.

3. Check the flight status on website. Sometimes flight cancellations are posted there earlier.

4. Be aware of alternate options even on other carriers.

5. If you are at the airport when cancellation happens, you may have better luck getting rebooked at the Admirals Cub.

6. If you have status with AA, try calling the elite number behind your card. Be warned that the wait times can be long at times.

7. If you get rebooked on other carrier, ask AA to print out the flight coupon on paper i.e. paper ticket. I had AA rebook me the other year but the process didn’t go right. Continental was not able to pull up the ticket and I had to ask AA to print it on paper.

8. Try booking flights without connections if possible. Lot of flights are delayed and can cause misconnects. Yesterday only 51% of the flights arrived on time.

On the positive side, if you get rebooked on alternate carrier, you can get EQM’s (Elite Qualifying Miles) and RDM’s (Redeemable Miles) on both carriers. If you get rebooked on Delta, United, US Airways etc, remember to have alternate frequent flier number handy for those flights. Later, you need to call American Airlines and request an original routing credit.


United Airlines has operational issues since the merge with Continental Airlines. Now, American Airlines is having problems with its pilot union. It is not nice when you get caught in the middle and inconvenienced during your travels. Eventually this will be over and American will be back to its regular operations.

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