American Airlines Melts Down Over Crew Shortages And Wind

American Airlines cancelled 342 flights on Friday, more than any other airline in the world. That came on the heels of a major day of cancellations on Thursday. The primary cause of this was weather in Dallas – and the skies were clear.

The largest American Airlines hub is in Dallas. It’s subject to its share of weather, but skies were clear on Thursday. Yet gusts of wind reached as high as 50 miles per hour for a good portion of the day. All of North Texas was under a National Weather Service wind advisory that lasted until midnight. As a low pressure system moved out of Texas and into Arkansas, a high pressure system came in behind it – and between the two was high winds.

Already American Airlines exceeded recent cancellation peaks on Saturday, dumping around 400 flights. Once an airline’s operation goes sideways, it takes time to recover because planes and crew are out of position. And then when it happens at the end of the month, things get even worse, because many employees have hit their maximum duty hours and aren’t eligible to work as replacements. That’s doubly true for an airline that’s been running short-staffed.

American has already cancelled over 250 flights for Sunday as well, and that’s a new month, but each day’s cancellations have knock-on effects.

The airline’s Chief Operating Officer, David Seymour, sent a memo to employees:

Happening over Halloween weekend, maybe the witch’s broom would’ve been better – and this Halloween video wasn’t such a good idea after all?

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. As I sit in the Admirals Club at DFW, B terminal I’m not seeing many delays or cancellations but maybe they aren’t showing up on the boards. My STL flight is delayed about 2 hours waiting for two flight attendants but that isn’t too unusual. PHX was having some cancellations this morning but not major from the looks of it. I think November will be bad.

  2. Gosh I switched to American over Southwes because of their meltdowns Time to drive?
    Sounds like a scary holiday travel season before us!

  3. Yeah, well I live here and I can tell you that we had 40-50 mph winds over the course of 3 days. Many people lost power, internet, etc over that time. I also live in a neighborhood with 1 American pilot, 1 Southwest pilot and about 4 other people who work in various positions with American including a family member. The cancellations were nothing more than weather… PERIOD Stop feeding the frenzy and making this more than it really is. Also, they really are hiring but hey, everyone would rather be a leech off society than work so there’s that.

  4. dwm,
    for whatever reason, it seems that the two Texas-based biggies are the ones that are having repeated operational problems.

  5. So was it weather or shortage of crews???
    After all you didn’t tell the whole story,what about the northeast????
    Let me stop here

  6. Ended up cancelling our flight to Seattle today after 3+ hours delay because of one flight attendant not ever showing up. But it was not wind or weather that AA staff told us was the cause. They said at the end of the month, many attendants have exhausted their hours for the month. Heard this from Gate Agent and twice at the Admiral’s Club in Ohare today. What a poor excuse to tell the flying public. Appreciate their honestly, but really got under our skin today. Especially because they could never give us line of site to getting an attendant. Very frustrating, I’m a loyall AA customer, but this one bugged me

  7. Let’s stop letting American control the narrative and call it what it is: poor management. Weather is tough, but they’ve been using that excuse for months now to avoid paying out vouchers or giving real refunds ( it’s stated in their policy). They’re understaffed with respect to pilots, but they were also the only major carrier to furlough pilots during the pandemic and most of them found other jobs in the meantime. This is a crisis of their own making.

  8. To paraphrase a long-running Texas Longhorns / OU Sooners joke…
    Q: Why is it so windy in Dallas?
    A: Because American Airlines sucks

  9. Instead of the 5 North/South runways, crosswinds required them to funnel everything into 2 runways on opposite side that run 13/31, hence unable to operate normal schedule

  10. American Airlines is a disaster as much as other American icons: Trumpism, systemic racism, unhealthy food (obesity), anti-intellectualism. America is such a s***hole country that it is only fitting to have such a s***hole of a namesake airline.

  11. Over 642 flights cancelled sounds like almost 1 billion in ticket sales possibly out the door. You already know those people want their money back.

  12. This is the 3rd American Airlines “Meltdown” this year! If all else fails blame the weather (4 days ago) so the passengers cannot get a hotel or meals. Parker should have been fired years ago.

  13. @John C Delta had three melt downs over every major holiday last year, Bastian is still in charge

  14. It’s Monday and AA is still recovering from the melt down and ensuing weekend disaster. John nails it, it is ridiculous to blame this all on that Thursday’s winds in DFW. That just kicked off a weekend of massive cancellations on Saturday and Sunday that flowed into Monday. The real culprit was running out of crew time coupled with a stupid USAir scheduling mode of splitting crews exasperated by a totally inept plan to bring crews back after Covid lay offs. They had had over 12 months to plan it yet the dummkopfs’ in HDQ rolled out a schedule that, even with good weather, any moron should have known offered little hope to efficiently operate. Instead of putting the handout/bailout money into operational planning it went in the pockets of executive (supposed) management. This is just a prelude to a self inflicted nightmare over Thanksgiving and Christmas. A total disgrace!!

  15. AA now uses cintrctors for the new hire selection process. There is no shortage of qualified candidates for emoloyment. But, most do not make it past the outside screeners. Even then, it could take 6 months to even make it into an interview. This was the case for me. Certain parts of corporate are very broken. They have contracted so much out, that they are now reaping what they have sewn. Local management in some areas are the comoanies worst enemy as well. There are station with true leaders, and there are some with suits filling positions who are friends with the right people.

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