(CNN/WSVN) — American Airlines cancelled hundreds of flights during the weekend, citing bad weather and staffing shortages.
Two days of severe winds in Dallas-Fort Worth, its largest hub, sharply reduced its arrival capacity, the company said. Flights were also affected at its Charlotte, N.C. hub.
As of 4:00 p.m. EDT, FlightAware, an aviation tracking program, showed 460 flights, or 17% of the airline’s operations, were cancelled. Another nearly 300 flights, or 11% of its operations, were delayed.
Saturday night, passengers at Miami International Airport who spoke with 7News said they were not happy about the cancellations and delays.
“Everybody is completely frustrated,” said a traveler.
7News cameras captured long lines in front of the American Airlines desk.
On Friday, FlightAware showed 738, or almost a quarter, of American’s operations were delayed, and it had 342 flight cancellations. It has preemptively cancelled 284 flights on Sunday.
American reported 4,967 flights had been scheduled on Saturday.
“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,” American said.
Of the flights reported by FlightAware on Saturday, there were 24 delays and 16 cancellations for flights in and out of MIA. The airline preemptively cancelled 24 departure flights from MIA scheduled for Sunday.
In comparison, Southwest, which has fewer flights per day, has cancelled 86 flights and delayed 473 in total.
Thousands of passengers are traveling during the Halloween weekend right now, many of them tweeting their grievances to the company.
Most passengers at MIA said they got very little warning.
“I looked at my phone like 10, 20 minutes before and, yeah, it just got cancelled out of nowhere,” said traveler Tanner Ford.
Some flyers said they never even got the heads up or an explanation from the airline.
“I only knew when I checked, and it’s, our flight was cancelled,” said traveler Gina Bcchiano. “No reason why, nothing. It was just cancelled.”
For that answer, some sat on hold.
“My dad’s been on the phone, and they said it’s like a two- or three-hour wait,” said traveler Josephine Clark.
Meanwhile, others waited and waited at the customer service area to rebook their flight.
“There’s only like two [employees] in the line, and there were, like, thousands of people lining up,” said traveler Yelson Espinoza. “It’s kind of embarrassing to actually see that.”
A statement from airline reads in part, “Most of the customers impacted by these changes are being rebooked the same day, and we apologize for having to make these changes.”
But other passengers are beginning to realize they will possibly remain in South Florida until the start of next week.
“They said they don’t have another flight until the 2nd of November, so that’s in, like, three days,” said Clark.
As air travel plunged in early 2020, airlines offered buyouts and early retirement packages to employees in order to cut costs. As they try to hire, or rehire, workers, service disruptions have become more frequent.
American expects more in-flight teams will return during the holiday season. The airline said 1,800 flight attendants will return Monday and the rest will be back by Dec. 1. The airline said it is also increasing hiring in the fourth quarter.
As travel ramps up after all but shutting down during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, other airlines also have had difficulty returning to normal operations. Southwest had an operational meltdown during one weekend in October, canceling more than 2,000 weekend flights.
The company blamed the move on air traffic control problems and limited staffing in Florida as well as bad weather, saying getting its operations back to normal was “more difficult and prolonged” because of schedule and staffing reductions it instituted during the pandemic.
As for the frustrated American Airlines passengers at MIA, they are doing one of two things Saturday night: either spending the night at the airport or hoping the airline will pay for a hotel. One thing they have not been able to do is to is hop on their originally scheduled fight.
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