04 Dec, 2017

American Airlines Recovers From IT Glitch, Affecting 15,000 Flights


One of the biggest news stories last week involved American Airlines, angry customers and the threat of holiday travel plans being disrupted. American Airlines was under heat after a glitch in the system affected scheduling for upcoming travel days, between December 17th and December 31st.

The error occurred in the company’s scheduling system, which gave too many pilots time off. When this glitch occurred, American Airlines went into recovery mode, in order to make sure that customers did not suffer from canceled flights, which would completely affect holiday plans, in fact, 15,000 flights.

“American was scrambling to fill the scheduling hole by offering pilots one and a half times their normal pay, said Gregg Overman, a spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association. But the union, which represents more than 15,000 pilots, filed a grievance, saying that the premium pay was not covered by its contract and that the airline couldn’t guarantee payment.”  The NY Times reported. 

No Pilots, No Flights

The problem was a very obvious issue with no clear solution. Without pilots, there would be no flights. As simple as that sounds, it became a complicated conflict for the airline, who suddenly had to make sure that the pilots were scheduled according to the flights that were booked. To do this, American Airlines offered the pilots 150% of their normal hourly wage.

“The airline sent an email to employees offering one-and-a-half times their normal rates to help fill in, but a grievance filed by the union against management said that the restrictions on overtime pay were a violation of the group’s contract.” The Verge reports.

The Glitch

It is clear that airlines have a big responsibility during the busy holiday season. Customers rely on these companies for reliability, and effectiveness during travel plans. Since these airlines rely on technology for scheduling, along with many other functions, it is easy for companies to fall into a situation like American Airlines, with a glitch taking over the system and completely disrupting customer’s plans, along with employees schedules.

The systems that airlines rely on are complicated, running with high-end software systems that are designed to deliver quality. Like any run-in with technology, these systems have the ability to fail.

“These are really complicated systems, they’re huge, and testing them for every potential interaction is almost impossible,” says Bill Curtis, the chief scientist at CAST, which finds software flaws for large corporations.” Wired reports.

As technology grows and expands, airline systems must adapt as well. This means adapting to a new language, shifting priorities to find time and resources that will further support the complex systems. If not, the airline will suffer, and encounter issues that not only disrupt scheduling, but can also run the risk of leading crews in the wrong direction, or leaving someone’s luggage behind.

Since American Airlines IT is so vulnerable and sensitive, it proves that learning how to adapt to new technology is crucial for every industry. Learning its distinct computer programs can be the deciding factor of success for the company, especially during the holiday season.

All in all, American Airlines was able to resolve the issue, without canceling any flights, which is quite a relief for everyone involved.


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