CHARLOTTE, N.C. — American Airlines canceled hundreds of flights Monday as the airline dealt with weather and staffing shortages nationwide, including more than 100 flights being impacted in Charlotte.
As of 10 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 2, American Airlines canceled 22 flights to or from Charlotte. This number was significantly lower than Monday's 149 cancellations at Charlotte Douglas, according to flight-tracking website Flight Aware. On Sunday, American Airlines canceled 266 flights in Charlotte.
Nationwide, American Airlines canceled 343 flights Friday, 548 Saturday, and 1,060 Sunday, which equaled 20% of the airline's nationwide flights for the day.
Charlotte Douglas International Airport says their ticketing and departures area remains "busy as American Airlines works to resume normal operations. Please allow for extra time if flying out."
This is what is causing the American Airlines cancelations
American Airlines is blaming weather and staffing issues for their flight details and cancelations nationwide. American Airlines told WCNC Charlotte that the cancellations were not because of vaccine mandates.
Cancellations began Friday when American said high winds at its hub in Dallas, Texas caused issues across their network. Like passengers, those cancellations prevented American's own flight crews from reaching their scheduled flights across the country.
"With additional weather throughout the system, our staffing begins to run tight as crew members end up out of their regular flight sequences," American Airlines said in a released statement to WCNC Charlotte. "To make sure we are taking care of our customers and providing scheduling certainty for our crews, we have adjusted our operation for the last few days this month by proactively canceling some flights.
About two-thirds of Sunday's cancellations were due to a lack of flight attendants in the right places, with almost all the remaining cancellations due to a shortage of pilots, according to internal American Airline numbers acquired by the Associated Press.
"Flight Attendant staffing at American remains strained and reflects what is happening across the industry as we continue to deal with pandemic-related issues," a statement from the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, the union representing American Airlines flight attendants, reads.
On Monday, American said they expected 1,800 flight attendants to return to work after being away on leave. The remainder of their flight attendants are expected back by Dec. 1, the airline said Saturday.
American also said they expect to have over 600 "new hire flight attendants" by the end of December.
American Airline customers with cancellations
"Most of the customers impacted by these changes are being rebooked the same day, and we apologize for having to make these changes," American said in their statement to WCNC Charlotte.
But as flights quickly booked up, travelers reported having to spend as many as two nights in Charlotte while waiting for a seat.
Those looking to check their flight status can visit the American Airlines flight status page, Charlotte Douglas International Airport flight status page, or FlightAware.
If you want to proactively reschedule your travel, you can do so under the travel guidelines the airlines instituted during the COVID-19 pandemic, which include:
- No change fees for all domestic, short-haul international, and select long-haul international flying on Premium Cabin, Premium Economy, and Main Cabin fares.
- Basic Economy fares bought on or after April 1, 2021, are non-refundable and non-changeable.
- Fly standby for free on earlier domestic flights, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, to the same destination on the same day.
- The company's full policies can be found on their website
Frustrated airline passengers
Passengers still could see and feel the crunch caused by the flight cancelations and delays.
"Flying is really stressful and with canceled flights, it's even more stressful," Lucia Venegas, whose flight to Mexico was canceled on Saturday, said.
“[My] original flight got canceled this morning and the issue is I’m flying to Chicago and every flight is booked," said Brandis Trickett, who got to Charlotte Douglas Airport at 6 a.m., and anticipated having to wait hours before knowing if she could fly standby.
Other travelers reported long wait lines at the airport and long hold times by phone, with some reporting they were on hold from one to three hours.
“I mean feel sorry for these people at the ticket counter that have to deal with this," another traveler Lori Weiss said. "We’re angry. We’re frustrated."
American Airlines was giving out $12 food vouchers and hotel vouchers. One woman said she received a voucher for a hotel in Fort Mill, South Carolina, but was not given the transportation to get there.
“I just hope that they get it together because I’m by myself, but I feel bad for the elderly or people that have small children that are traveling," Love Jacobs said. "This is just unacceptable."
American Airlines statement to customers
The following statement was sent from American Airlines to customers:
Over the last few days, we proactively canceled flights in order to account for weather in our operation and its impact to our crew members’ flight schedules.
We recognize that you may have been impacted by these adjustments. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and that we weren’t able to provide advance notice about these changes. We want to share more background and our response to ensure smooth travel this upcoming holiday season.
Late last week, DFW experienced two days with wind gusts of up to 50 mph, which rendered three of five runways unusable, and reduced arrival capacity by more than half. This weather, along with limited staffing due to crew members’ regular schedules being disrupted, drove a large number of cancellations at our largest hub.
We offer the above not as an excuse, but rather in the spirit of transparency. We take seriously our commitment to serve you, and it is our responsibility to take learnings from this past weekend and improve upon our processes. You deserve nothing less, and you have our pledge that we will do just that.
To make sure we are taking care of you and providing scheduling certainty for our crews, we adjusted our operation by proactively canceling some flights to minimize any inconvenience as much as possible. Most customers impacted by these changes are being rebooked the same day.
We expect considerable improvement beginning today with some residual impact from the weekend.
We will continue to staff up across our entire operation:
- Today, nearly 1,800 flight attendants are returning from leave.
- On December 1, the remainder of flight attendants on leave are coming back.
- We'll have 600+ new flight attendants on staff by end of December.
- We’re continuing to hire additional pilots and team members in Technical Operations, which includes our maintenance team. We anticipate 4,000 new team members will join us across the system in the fourth quarter.
- We’ve hired hundreds of Reservations agents over the last several months, so more team members are in place as we head into the holiday season.
If you need any assistance with your travel plans, please reach out to Reservations at 1-800-433-7300 or with our virtual chat assistant on aa.com and on the American Airlines app.
Thank you for the opportunity to share more background on the last few days and to reassure you of our commitment to getting you where you need to go — when you need to be there.
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