American Airlines Is Making A Simple Change To Reduce Delays

Prior to the merger with US Airways, American Airlines crew would generally stay together on a trip and even stay on the same aircraft. When a flight delayed, it was only that flight and crew which were affected (and subsequent flights scheduled with the same aircraft).

US Airways management took over and eliminated this practice. When a plane lands at a hub, crew disperse on separate journeys. When a flight delays, that means each flight attendant and pilot going their own way delays a flight. There’s a cascading effect on the operation.

American has started to revise its approach and 97% of crew flowing through Dallas – Fort Worth now connect together onto their next flight between the hours of 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. They may not be staying with the aircraft, but a lack of crew because of a single flight delay won’t mean a lack of crew for several flights after that. This contains delays.

As it was explained to flight attendants earlier this week in an internal company question and answer session,

One thing you’ve seen maybe hopefully felt in DFW in October is a lot more transits through DFW when you’re connecting with your pilot and flight attendant crew together. That’s an intentional act. We think there are some really great benefits both for our pilots, flight attendants and overall operation to stay together through DFW. It went from very few to almost all kind of in the middle of the day. Early morning and late night not so much.

Zachary Shapiro, who manages crew planning at the airline, expanded on this.

You all may ask why, how does that improve my quality of life? Keeping the flight attenadnts and pilots together reduces the likelihood of delays and reschedulings associated with having pilots but not flight attendants or vice versa.

The practice of keeping crew together is rolling out to Charlotte next month. The Dallas change in particular is helpful, though, not just because it’s the airline’s biggest hub (with potential to make the biggest difference) but also because the airport is subject to frequent thunderstorms and it’s known as (D)oesn’t (F)unction (W)et.

American has also eliminated flight attendant trips with 5 legs, and reduced the number of trips with more than 3 legs by over 50%. This is a big reversal from where American Airlines was a year ago trying to convince employees to voluntarily separate from the company, promising that they’d hate the schedules they had to work if they stayed.

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. […] There’s one way that American has improved. When US Airways management took over American they started splitting up crewmembers throughout the day. American had largely kept planes and crew together, but that practice changed which meant that when a flight delayed it would then delay several additional flights. American has started mostly keeping crew together in Dallas and Charlotte. […]


  1. No wonder USAir stood for “You’re Still Allegheny In Reality!”

    This is like a redux of ‘Back to the Future,’ reversing so many changes because AA was purchased by another carrier with a “puddle jumper” mentality.

    The list of reversals back to AA’s proven, successful approach is getting quite long. Doesn’t anybody on the Board come with airline experience to temper these erratic changes?

  2. I was a former PI/FA and when USAir took over we joined them in their scheduling. Both pilots and f/a could bid the same trips and fly together for all the monthly trips. The a/c did not stay with us all time but we stayed together for the whole trip. It is much easier for reroutes/wx.

  3. “ So what was the benefit of splitting up groups in the first place?”

    Efficiency in scheduling crews.

  4. The “Tempe Team” brought a once great airline (American) to the industries worst. I hope they are able to turn things around. I still can”t believed Parker has not been fired.

  5. You folks have to remember US and AA are being ruined by America West as a retiree with over 30 years I saw a great airline become a no frills sad

  6. This is a start. Had a recent flight that a was delayed a few hours waiting for one crew whose connecting flight was delayed. I was shocked they couldnt find a replacement but given the staffing shortage and bad management I wasnt surprised. The cascading effect of one flight delay can easily hit 5-7 other flights currently.

  7. Did anyone of you US Air haters read the article? This was an American Airlines practice!! US Airways crews always stayed together!!

  8. This was something that was done after the merger. Prior to that US Airways crews stayed together. The F/As were not happy with the change. I believe Delta uses the split crews, I know Endeavour does.

  9. @Daniel and @Bezler – pilots and flight attendants have different rest rules, contract rules and preferences, and at AA a somewhat different set of bases. So the most efficient crew schedule that minimizes deadhead flights and minimum pay guarantees, while meeting all the FAR and contract rules – is naturally going to be different for the two.

  10. Chris the only reply that made any sense! I take that back. It has been also pointed out that USAIRWAYS crews stayed together also. If AA was so great how did the Tempe brain trust manage to invade Fort Worth?

  11. I also was a Usairways F/A. Legacy American was the airline that split the crews!! We would fly a 4 day trip with the same 5 people. Loved it!! I know it’s not possible anymore because the pilots get more rest and can’t fly longer days, but that’s another story!!

  12. This first paragraph is factually wrong. US crews stayed together while AA crews had split pairings. This move goes back to the more reliable US way not the AA way.

  13. It was USAirways that did not split up crews. Same crew to include flight attendants and pilots flew entire trip together. Not American Airlines. Parker/Isom insisted on going to a less efficient crew scheduling/trip planning system during the merger. It has cost AA hundreds of millions in lost profits and a nightmare for the customers. Pure misery in now daily meltdowns. There is no accountability. None, whatsoever.

  14. US Airways is management is stuck trying to run the airlines like a regional carrier…American was a 5 Star leading Airlines now our compition is Spirit and Grey Hound!

  15. This article is simply not correct. I am a USAirways flight attendant and now American. At USAways the entire crew flew together for an entire trip, be it a one day trip or a four day trip. In this case “crew” meaning flight attendants and pilots. Once USAways and American merged flight attendants and Pilots were split. Currently, all flight attendants stay together for an entire trip and pilots stay together for an entire trip but separately from flight attendants. I cannot speak for how American did this prior to the merger.

  16. AA airlines use to always do this. Then one day someone who sits in an office thought that they should split up crews. Terrible idea. Hopefully, American can now get there crap together. It’s all goes back to scheduling…they screwed it up to begin with!

  17. Old United (pre-Continental merger) allegedly had a group of pilot wives who got in bed with ALPA (pilot union) and demanded they split the FAs & Pilots on multi-day trips to avoid Chris’s assertion above.

    Any legacy UA pilots here that corroborate?

    This article makes SO much sense: one delayed flight with multiple “next flights” to affect make for operational nightmares. If the UA rumor is true, pretty ridiculous that no one looked beyond to the cause and effect.

  18. I read the article and just HaD to comment that this new policy was US/ PI policy. So it’s not US that had the screwy separations of crew. Not sure if AA did this previously but as you can see from all the comments, it certainly WAS NOT US/PI.

  19. It’s a former AA practice too, for all you US Air folks who want to make up things about American. Pilots & FAs would fly together the whole month when we line bid, and that ended around 2016 post merger.

  20. Response to MES:
    American was by no means “purchased by USAir’”
    American went into Bankruptcy to in essence screw over the world, especially it’s employee Unions, but mark my word American had a ton of cash on hand and assets. The Merger was bartered between some incredibly unscrupulous Union heads meeting in secret with USAir. When it came down to the 9th Inning, USAir let it be known that AA had to remain in Bankruptcy reorganization until the papers were signed for the Merger. The saddest part of the whole thing was that in those secret meetings it was promised to Doug Parker that the Union Members would get behind him overtaking complete power of the airline and there would be no hiccups. At this point, not a single Union Member had any idea these talks had taken place.
    Please never say that a classy classic legacy airline that was once American Airlines was “bought” by USAir and the Doug Parker team. Not only has being betrayed and living with his childish “ideas” been painful enough, but the truth is that Doug Parker also had bought USAir at the close to shutting the doors tail end of USAir’s THIRD Bankruptcy. He has destroyed a well won good name and reputation of what once was American Airlines, but he should get zero credit for being in a faux position of buying one of the world’s largest carriers.

  21. @ F. Sorry but most of what you posted us revisionist history. Secret or not, those meetings indeed allowed Usair to buy AA.

  22. First paragraph is not true.

    US Airways crews flew their entire trips together. That changed when we merged with American.

  23. I agree with Bill, yes UsAirways always scheduled the whole crew to stay together for the whole trip! Please get your facts right!

  24. AA ended o-pairing over 20 years ago. This is just to correct those who think AA still copaired just prior to the merger.

  25. I, like so many others, have come here to say that USAirways always flew our crews together prior to the merger. For a lot of us, it was a very sad day when we were split up.
    What I have to add is, Gary, this was a pretty simple thing to fact check yet you presented a completely false statement as fact. I have to wonder how often this happens at View From the Wing?

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