American Airlines Canceling More Flights Recently Due To Pilot "Sick-Outs"

The sun is shining, the weather is clear and bright, and yet your flight today has been canceled. While you shake your fist at the cloudless sky, here’s the reason why there’s been an uptick in canceled American Airlines flights recently, as well as the potential for more cancellations in the future: American Airlines’ parent company AMR is having a tough time dealing with its pilots and as such, many pilots have allegedly been calling in sick.

There’s also been an increase in maintenance reports filed by pilots, said an American Airlines spokesman.

Yesterday the airline had canceled 51 flights, which is more than twice the number of the airline next in line with cancellations, reports the Chicago Tribune. On Tuesday afternoon there were already 35 cancellations planned for Wednesday, for a total of 243 nationwide this week.

It’s not going to end here, either — American will reduce its schedule through October 1 by 1-2%.

“It’s an attempt to preplan and better accommodate our passengers by canceling in advance and changing the schedule to reaccommodate people … to give them plenty of notice before they get to the airport and find a flight canceled,” the spokesman said, even though the company doesn’t think there’s any organized action at work by the pilots. “We recognize these adjustments may affect our customers, and we apologize for any inconvenience.”

The pilots’ union says it hasn’t planned any sickout but that things aren’t great, anyway.

“The pilots of American Airlines are angry,” the president of Allied Pilots Association wrote to members. “While AMR management continues paying lip service to needing a consensual agreement with us, their punitive approach of extracting far more value than they need is hardly conducive to reaching a consensual agreement. In fact, they have made that critical task even more difficult.”

American Airlines cancels flights on alleged pilots’ ‘sickout’ [Chicago Tribune]


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  1. Abradax says:

    The following change is effective immediately:

    Any pilot using sick time must present a return to work note from their doctor upon the end of their sick time in order to return to work.

    If any pilot does not receive the appropriate documentation, employment will be terminated.

    • MutantMonkey says:

      Did the union approve said rule change?

      • TuxthePenguin says:

        Union contract was thrown out as a part of bankruptcy.

      • Abradax says:

        Who cares? They don’t like it, strike. At least then the customers of American would know up front that they weren’t going to fly.
        Sick time is not to be used in this manner.

        There are enough pilots out of work that would jump at the chance to be a scab. My brother in law is one. He can’t get a job with the airlines since he lacks experience. He can’t get experience because he can’t get a job with the airlines.

    • kanenas says:

      “Any pilot using sick time must present a return to work note from their doctor upon the end of their sick time in order to return to work.”

      Most employers allow for someone to be out up to 2-3 days before a doctor’s note is required. But think about this for a second, does every sick day require a visit to the doctor? What if the person has a cold that keeps him in bed that day? Very rarely does one one go to the doctor for that.

      • Abradax says:

        Usually, but extenuating circumstances force the situation.

        • Shadowfire says:

          Anyone can get a note from their doctor for almost anything. If you believe your illness will interfere with work a note is easy to get.

          And that illness can be mental.

      • fsnuffer says:

        Pilots have wide latitude in this area for a reason. If the pilot does not feel he can safely operate the aircraft he/she can remove themselves from flying status. Not that I support this sick out but the alternative of some lackey at headquarters overriding the pilot is not an option I would support. This comes down to an ethics issue. If the pilot is not sick, he/she is abusing a safety regulation for their own personal benefit.

        • dchs says:

          Haha I guess the union could make it more truthful by either beating their own pilots so that they are truly sick, or somehow having a nice overnight poker party so that the pilots are too hung over or tired to work?

  2. Deep Cover says:

    You have a couple of problems with that rule:
    1) There are federal regulations against pilots flyiing “sick”. For instance, a pilot can not operate a plane if he has had any alcohol within 24 hours.
    2) These changes are workplace changes and have to be collectively bargained.

    • Abradax says:

      1 isn’t a problem.

      If they are sick, they go to the doctor and get a note.

      2 if they are violating their contract by using sick time in a manner that isn’t prescribed for in their contract, they are already violating the contract, and I’m sure the terms call for termination in those cases.

      • kanenas says:

        “… they are already violating the contract, and I’m sure the terms call for termination in those cases.”

        I’m no fan of unions but I doubt the pilots would be terminated unless there was gross, negligent misconduct. It takes some skill and a lot of training to fly a plane, and pilots are not as easy to replace as say, auto workers or teachers.

      • AcctbyDay says:

        Have you ever been so exhausted or sick that all you needed was one day to recouperate? Getting in to see a doctor when you only realize you’re sick that morning is not always possible and sometimes just leaving the house and driving might be more than you can handle if you are exhausted or sick enough.

        I’m not saying they shouldn’t go to the doctor, but I’ve taken many a sick day because I just was too tired to leave the house due to overwork. Not that any airline overworks their pilots right?

        If I’m out for more than one day I make all attempts to go to the doctor if I feel bad enough, sometimes I realize that after day 2 I can return and the doctor visit is unwarranted. The fact that the airlines do not have enough pilots and overwork the ones they have is the problem here, not the fact that human beings get sick occasionally.

  3. rgf207 says:

    Way to go! Stand up for yourself! Don’t give in!

    Unless you’re teachers. In that case, you are greedy slim-sucking leeches

    • TacoDave says:

      There’s a difference between private employees in unions and public employees in unions. You can read up on it if you want.

      • azntg says:

        After reading a few articles and academic papers on unions, I got the impression that: (1) many of the private sector unionized employees basically abdicated, (2) things went downhill fast and (3) now they’re all worked up with public sector unionized employees where things aren’t going downhill as quickly.

        Race to the bottom! If this is the only time I’ll say this, then I’ll say it: “Hope all of us can drop out of this race!”

  4. TacoDave says:

    I have a trip bought and paid for in October – and it’s on American! And flying through Dallas!

    I asked my Magic 8 Ball™ if the trip will be delayed or cancelled and it said “Outlook hazy.”

  5. noahproblem1 says:

    Such a tragedy, all those poor pilots coming up with anal glaucoma at the same time – my prayers are with them…