American Airlines

American Airlines Plagued by Major Flight Cancellations for 4th Day

American Airlines is still trying to dig out from under a blizzard of canceled flights over the last few days

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American Airlines again reported hundreds of cancellations and delays Monday morning following disruptions that upended weekend travel plans for thousands of passengers.

American Airlines said 436 flights were canceled as of Monday afternoon.

According to airline tracking service FlightAware, more than 70 cancellations were into the Fort Worth carrier's largest hub, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

Monday's performance was an improvement over Sunday, when American scrubbed more than 1,000 flights — more than one-third of its schedule — according FlightAware. In all, American has canceled more than 2,000 flights in the past three days as it struggles with staffing shortages.

American’s troubles began Thursday and Friday, when high winds at times shut down its busiest hub, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, and prevented the airline from using all runways there. That made it difficult for American to get crews in position for upcoming flights, and caused disruptions. The number of canceled and delayed flights grew larger in number and geographic sweep throughout the weekend.

“To make sure we are taking care of our customers and providing scheduling certainty for our crews, we have adjusted our operation for the last few days this month by proactively canceling some flights,” David Seymour, the airline’s chief operating officer, said in a note to employees on Saturday.

Like other airlines, American encouraged thousands of workers to quit last year when air travel collapsed during the pandemic, only to be caught short-staffed this year when travel recovered faster than expected.

“Flight attendant staffing at American remains strained and reflects what is happening across the industry as we continue to deal with pandemic-related issues," said Paul Hartshorn Jr., a spokesman for the union representing American's flight attendants.

Flight attendants said many reached their maximum allowable hours for October during the final days of the month, leaving many flights without cabin crews. About two-thirds of Sunday’s cancellations were due to a lack of flight attendants in the right places, with almost all the remaining cancellations due to a shortage of pilots, according to internal figures.

On Monday afternoon in Terminal A, one of the busiest for American at DFW, Alec Santelman was hoping to return to Minneapolis after his Sunday flight was canceled.

"Honestly I think its been really stressful," Santelman said. "When everything moves so slow and you’re in line for hours and hours trying to get an answer – it’s a lot.”

The situation appeared similar to disruptions at Southwest Airlines in early October. However, the Dallas-based airline on Monday also reported 76 cancellations across its network and 39 delays, according to FlightAware.

Earlier in October, Southwest canceled well over 2,000 flights after disruptions started with weather problems in Florida and were compounded by staffing shortages. Southwest’s chief operating officer said the airline was pursuing “a very aggressive hiring plan” but was “still not where we want to be with staffing,” especially pilots.

American Airlines says 1,800 flight attendants returned to duty Monday after being on leave and that the carrier planned to hire additional pilots, flight attendants and employees in reservations through the end of the year.

Santelman said he did not plan to fly during the upcoming holiday season that starts with Thanksgiving travel in three weeks.

"Is this something that’s going to continue for the next six months or the next five years?" Santelman questioned. "Or is this just how it is? I don’t know.”

Travel experts warned travelers that these types of travel issues will most likely be the norm heading into the busy holiday travel season.

"We like to say, 'Pack the patience.' I mean, it's just kind of a unique time, so some things are unavoidable or you just can't predict," said Lia Vincent, owner of Vincent Vacations in Dallas.

From her Dallas office, Vincent said agents were encouraging customers to pad their trips with an extra day or two, especially those flying for specific plans, like catching a cruise.

She also recommended checking flight status days in advance, saying some cancellations are announced up to four days out.

NBC 5's David Goins contributed to this report.

Copyright NBC 5 News and The Associated Press
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