A software glitch of American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) left thousands December 2017 flights without assigned pilots during “the upcoming critical holiday period,” the carrier's pilot union stated on November 28, 2017.  

The airline's management told its employees by email that software error gave time off to too many pilots between December 17 and 31. The error caused the scheduling system to show sufficient staffing coverage for planned flights and allowed pilots dropping some trips they had been assigned, when in fact there were not enough crew members willing to pick up the flights, American spokesman Matt Miller told Bloomberg.

As a result, over 15,000 planes currently lack pilots, according to the Allied Pilots Association that represents American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) pilots.

“This is certainly not routine,” Dennis Tajer, spokesman for Allied Pilots Association, told Bloomberg. “This is a crisis right now, and in that crisis, [American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) has] gone solo.”

American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) said in a statement that it is working diligently to address the issue and expects to avoid cancellations during the holiday season.  

“We have reserve pilots to help cover flying in December, and we are paying pilots who pick up certain open trips 150% of their hourly rate – as much as we are allowed to pay them per contract“, the Verge quotes the carrier's spokesperson. “We will work with the APA to take care of our pilots and ensure we get our customers to where they need to go over the holidays.”

The pilot union reacted by saying that “neither APA nor the contract can guarantee the promised payment of the premium being offered,” and called it “violation of the contract.”

The union claims that the airline has to look for a way out only in collaboration with APA.“Here's hoping the folks running the airline come to us and are willing to sit down and work through it because we don't have a solution at this point,” Gregg Overman, a spokesman for APA, told the New York Times.

According to Bloomberg, flights that are scheduled without a captain, first officer or both originate from American's largest hub Dallas-Fort Worth Airport and airports in Boston, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City and Charlotte, North Carolina.