North Texas travelers now have fewer flights to choose from out of DFW. American Airlines has cut up to two percent of its flights following an increase in delays and cancellations.
Carol is from Germany and travels frequently. But while waiting for an American Airlines flight this weekend, she did a lot more sitting than flying.
“I got to the airport and they said right away, ok, we’re going to be 45 minutes delayed,” Carol said. “So I thought 45 minutes, that’s no problem, I check in, check in my bag, got my boarding pass; the delay was one hour and 45 minutes. In the airport, it kept being bumped up another 15 minutes, another 20 minutes which I didn’t appreciate. So it was close to three hours all together.”
Carol says she hasn’t heard much about American Airlines’ labor dispute with the pilots’ union, but this is what she was told about the hold-up this past weekend.
“The reason given to me for the delay was that the crew was late to appear,” Carol said.
American Airlines Spokesman Bruce Hicks says there has been a marked increase in both delays and cancellations.
In September of 2011, American Airlines flights were running about 82 percent on time. This month, the on-time rate dropped to nearly 62 percent.
“There’s a lot of speculation as to why but I can tell you what the facts are,” said Hick. “We are seeing a significant number of write-ups, maintenance write-ups by our flight crews, as well as our sick level usage is up, has been for some time.”
And because fewer people to crew flights means a major inconvenience for travelers, this week, American Airlines decided to get ahead of the problem.
“Tuesday through this weekend we have selectively canceled around 300 flights,” Hicks said. “Pre-canceled, pre-planned so we can let customers know in advance, re-accommodate them so they don’t come to the airport and find the change then, we’ll be able to reach them and make those changes.”
Despite rumors that union pilots with American Airlines have coordinated some sort of sick-out because they’re angry about not having a contract, Gregg Overman with the Allied Pilots Association insists that is not true.
“Let’s be clear, there’s no pilot slowdown, no work to rule campaign, no sort of job action whatsoever that is organized, sanctioned or supported by the Allied Pilot’s Association,” said Overman.
He says management at American Airlines has created a work environment with a lot of uncertainty. While the pilot’s union hasn’t sanctioned a work slowdown, Overman says he wouldn’t be surprised if individual employees were reacting to the current climate by calling in sick.
“We’re just talking about human beings with emotions with mortgages to pay and college tuitions to pay for, so yes, I think that’s certainly a possibility,” Overman explained. “It would be an understandable response to all this uncertainty.”
Uncertainty that’s affecting travelers like Randy who is waiting to pick-up a business partner outside Terminal C. He says these days; delayed arrivals are something he and his friends have started to expect.
“I’ve had friends who have come down here to pick up people and they now leave more time,” Randy said. “Instead of, like how I was here when they were supposed to be in, they don’t ever get in on time, so they start leaving the house later.”
So regardless of motivation, a spike in delays and cancellations is giving American Airlines a bit of a reputation with travelers.