After American Airlines Pilot Sleeps In A Hotel’s Lobby, Pilots Told Not To Fly Without Confirmed Rooms

Earlier I covered the American Airlines flight attendants who were stuck sleeping at the airport because they weren’t provided a hotel room for their layover. In it, I mentioned that the grievance filed by the flight attendants union indicated pilots were having similar problems with the airline’s accommodations (and ground transportation) providers.

Dennis Tajer, with American’s Allied Pilots Association, shared that they too filed a grievance with the airline (.pdf) on Tuesday over hotels not being provided to pilots. While they don’t note pilots sleeping in airports, they do report a pilot sleeping in a hotel lobby because of lack of a room for the night.

You might think of this as an internal matter, not really of importance to passengers, except for two things,

  1. As a passenger you want your pilot to have had proper rest for safety reasons

  2. The union is telling pilots not to “depart for your overnight unless shelter and transportation are confirmed.” So the the reliability of the operation – whether you’ll get where you’re going – is at stake. As Tajer explains, “Many of our pilots are choosing to delay until they have a hotel booked” so you may be affected.

The pilot complaint focuses less on wait times to speak to an agent, and more on scheduling mishaps by Travalliance, the company American outsources to for this including failure to book hotels and booking transportation at the wrong times (or failing to book transport to the hotels). On average pilots face less hardship when forced to book their own accommodations and seek reimbursement from the company, but the union complains that American is failing to provide required reimbursement under this scenario. They want interest on overdue remibursements.

As with the complaint over lodging by their flight attendants, an American Airlines spokesperson shares “Taking care of our crew members while they are away from home is a priority for American. We are looking into the concerns raised by APA and APFA.”

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. This is really stunning for a so called legacy airline to be having these type of issues.
    Dougie is really going for great.

  2. How has Doug Parker not been fired yet?
    Bring back the LAA leadership and out with this useless bunch.

  3. “This is what our pilots are telling us they want,” responded Parker. “90% of our pilots find it more convenient to bring their own blankets and pillows with them when they fly. Plus they like the excitement of not knowing where they may be sleeping for the night. You’re welcome !”

  4. I typically bring a sleeping bag, Coleman stove, 2 litres of water and MRE’s when I fly American.

  5. In some ways I feel it’s justified that they feel passengers pain at times. I’ve been stuck at O’Hare many times, and at few times it was completely airlines fault. One time flight crew came in late from another delayed flight. They can’t get a replacement flight crew at ORD? Because the curfew in SNA, flight had to be cancelled. It took them almost 2 hours to get supervisor to approve hotel voucher for passengers, waiting in the lobby for hotel shuttle to get to the hotel to shower and sleep for 2 hours? Just come comeback to the miserable ORD check in? I had my feet up and had eyes shut for a few hours at the food court before Admiral Club open for a hot shower and hot breakfast (this was pre pandemic).

  6. The rumor is that their will be a remake of the movie, “The Out-of-Towners, “featuring CEO Doug as a pilot turned away from an oversold hotel and forced to sleep on a Central Park bench…

    Are all of AA’s Board members relatives of Doug, as how else would they sit so quietly and tolerate managerial FUBARS week after week?

    AA’s Board should be cross referenced to other companies they hold board memberships in to see if those companies are as so totally screwed up as AA? Imagine if AA’s Board included an employee advocate how busy that person would be…

  7. It’s funny, the Federal Aviation Regulations have careful limits on how long flight crews may operate between rest periods, but nowhere does it define “rest” except as “freedom from any obligation.” I suppose they thought that would include beds and quiet rooms. Silly of them. There is an advisory circular (117-1) for rest facilities in an airplane (which are used when long flights have multiple crews). Logically then pilots and flight attendants should sleep on parked planes. I’m sure the floors would allow more stretching out than the seats. I’m sure that would go over big.

  8. Drrichard,

    I think you need to read FAR 117 (not just an aviation circular)…in it you will find….

    e “No flight crew member may accept an assignment for any reserve or flight duty period unless the flight crew member is given a rest period of at lease 10 consecutive hours immediately before beginning the reserve or flight duty period measured from the time the flight crew member is released from duty. The 10 hr rest period must provide the flight crew member with a minimum of 8 uninterrupted hrs of sleep opportunity.”
    f “If a flight crew member determines that a rest period under paragraph (e) of this section will not provide eight hrs of uninterrupted hours of sleep opportunity, the flight crew member must notify the certificate holder. The flight crew member cannot report for the assigned flight duty period until he or she receives a rest period specified in paragraph (e) of this section.

    This of course implies a quiet room and a bed if that is what a crew member requires to satisfy paragraph (f), in fact if the air conditioner does not work in the room, there is a bachelor party down at the hotel pool deck or a fire alarm goes off in the middle of the night, that 8 hrs gets reset until those issues are resolved. That’s the way it works in theory and in practice. With regards to this article if the hotel is not even booked when the pilots arrive that rest clock ain’t starting until it is regardless of what they have on their schedule. Their next flight will either be delayed, recrewed or cancelled and that would be on the company not the pilots!

  9. Doug Parker, CEO and CWO of American Airlines today announced “We fully support rooms for our flight crews. Period.” He continues “APA and APFA have requested, and without question deserve, rooms for every pilot, every flight attendant, every night. No longer will tee pees, tents, caves, or even the great outdoors be tolerated as suitable accommodation for our valued flightboys and flightgals. Nothing less than 4 intersecting walls will house our crew members going forward.” Upon request for comment, fellow industry player Ed Bastian was said to be inconsolably laughing and therefore unavailable.

  10. Dougie has always claimed that he should be judged for the way he treated employees.

    I don’t think that’s working out exactly as he expected right now.

  11. This is absolutely disgusting. What kind of idiots are running this airline? They should just shutAA down immediately, buy pax a tix on another airline, and HIRE SOMEONE COMPETENT to manage things. We all are familiar with the insanity of flying and we’ve put up with it for years, gamely understanding the complexity of the biz. When is enough enough?

  12. So the pilot gets to sleep in the hotel lobby when there is no room. Lately, hotels are not walking their other guests properly if they are sold out, and these guests are told they will be trespassed or arrested if they don’t leave the hotel. So much for guaranteed or prepaid reservations.

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