American Airlines pilot scheduling glitch impact at HIA

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Passengers booked on American Airlines may be wondering if they'll be home for the holidays.

A computer glitch gave too many of the airline's pilots time off, during the busy travel season.

At HIA, American Airlines flies to Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, and Philadelphia, but only passengers booked through or to Charlotte may be affected, if at all.

An American Airlines computer scheduling glitch, which put too many of its pilots on vacation at the same time, may leave some travelers wondering if that will put their own holiday travel plans on hold.

AAA Central Penn public relations manager Doni Lee Spiegel said "maybe they're going on an international trip. They're going to see friends and family, not only that, you have multi-generations traveling together, you have kids, you have grandparents, and people don't want to have to deal with the tough situation of being stuck at an airport."

Out of about 200,000 flights scheduled in December, American Airlines officials said a few hundred are currently unassigned to pilots, during a two-week period. Meanwhile, AAA travel agents are standing by.

"Customers traveling those dates between December 17th and the 31st, and they are booked with American Airlines our agents are working to help them figure out what's best for them," Spiegel said.

Harrisburg International Airport spokesperson Scott Miller said "four different airlines right now that are flying on the American banner, you have American, you have Republic, you have Piedmont, you have American Eagle. The only ones that could be potentially impacted are the ones being flown by American, that's important. That's the part of the story that's not being told."

Miller said that adds up to a total of 186 American Airlines flights scheduled out of HIA during that time.

"However, only 30 of them are actually American Airlines crews, so it's only 15 percent of the departures out of here, during this period that could be, and I stress the word could be impacted," Miller said.

American Airlines officials released the following statement.

"We have more reserve pilots on hand in December than normal months and they provide us with the ability to fly many of the trips that are currently uncovered. We have not canceled any scheduled flights in December and will continue to work to ensure both our pilots and our customers are cared for.”

Travel experts also believe time may be on their side.

"There are three weeks here to solve this issue. If this was something that just happened, a computer glitch was canceling 15,00 flights tomorrow, Friday, Saturday, that's a big deal, but they have three weeks to figure this out," Miller said.

"American Airlines is one of the major airlines, so we are hoping that they are able to rectify this for the majority of their consumers," Spiegel said.

Miller is confident American Airlines won't risk its reputation or revenue, and will resolve the issue in enough time.

"This is a busy and important time period, revenue wise, and customer service wise for American. I can't imagine the pilots union, and the airline, and management, are not going to be able to figure out a way to fly most if not all of these flights during that time period," Miller said.