Fifth day of travel disruptions for American Airlines

Morning In America

(NewsNation Now) — American Airlines experienced its fifth day of travel disruptions Tuesday, canceling 94 flights by 9 a.m., or 3% of its scheduled flights for the day, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware.

Tuesday’s performance was an improvement from the holiday weekend, but American still had the highest number of cancellations reported for a U.S.-based airline for the day.

American’s troubles started when high winds reduced flights at its busiest hub, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. American was unable to get pilots and flight attendants in position for upcoming flights, leading to about 2,500 cancellations nationwide from Friday through Sunday, according to the airline.

“We anticipate getting through this brief irregular ops period quickly with the start of a new month,” American COO David Seymour said in a letter shared with all team members about the weekend cancellations.

Thousands of passengers have been impacted by the cancellations and are now wondering if the disruptions will be smoothed out before the Thanksgiving travel rush.

Staffing shortages have led to long lines and slower service all around.

“The customer service was like 200 people in the line,” said one passenger who was traveling with her infant trying to get back home to Chicago. “I tried to cut in. I was there waiting for like another hour and then they told me that I had to do another connection in Tennessee in order to get to Chicago the next day.”

“I had to stay in a hotel overnight with my baby and I didn’t have anything,” she said about her experience. “They had all my bags.”

Airlines across the board are having trouble finding the right staffing solution as air travel bounces back from the pandemic.

“The good news moving forward is that we continue to staff up across our entire operation and we will see more of our team returning in the coming months,” Seymour wrote to team members.

Flight attendants said many reached their maximum allowable hours for October during the final days of the month, leaving many flights without cabin crews. About two-thirds of American’s cancellations Sunday were due to a lack of flight attendants, with most of the rest due to pilot shortages, according to internal airline figures.

Like other airlines, American encouraged thousands of workers to quit last year when air travel collapsed during the pandemic, only to be caught short-staffed this year when travel recovered faster than expected.

“Flight attendant staffing at American remains strained and reflects what is happening across the industry as we continue to deal with pandemic-related issues,” said Paul Hartshorn Jr., a spokesman for the union representing American’s flight attendants.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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