By Steve Large

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — It’s a holiday travel alert for American Airlines passengers. The airline is scrambling to avoid massive flight cancellations this Christmas.

“That could drastically change our plans,” Sacramento traveler Sheila Spring said.

Spring and her daughter have several flights booked for Christmas, visiting family across the country.

“We’re flying a lot during the holiday, and I don’t know what flight we’re on,” Spring said. “It could very well be American—I really think it might be.”

The American Airlines pilot union says a computer glitch allowed too many pilots off through the holidays, on travel dates between Dec. 17 and 31.

That means 15,000 booked flights don’t have pilots to fly the planes.

American Airlines has 17 daily flights from Sacramento International Airport—to Los Angeles, Phoenix, Chicago, Charlotte, and Washington, D.C.

Sacramento travel expert Robin Little says American Airlines passengers should practice patience.

“I would caution them to pick up the phone,” Little said. “I would email their personal travel agent or the online travel company they bought their tickets through.”

American Airlines released a statement reading:

“We are working diligently to address the issue and expect to avoid cancellations this holiday season. We have reserve pilots to help cover flying in December, and we are paying pilots who pick up certain open trips 150 percent of their hourly rate.”

So far, the airline union is not onboard with that solution.

“Our crews are going to be out there in an operation in disarray with cancellations as a possible option—that’s not acceptable,” American Airlines Captain Dennis Tajer said.

Getting home for the holidays.

For American Airlines passengers with booked flights, beware.


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