I know many travelers have a love-hate relationship with the airlines and it couldn’t be any more true for American Airlines (AA) customers. I’ve been one of their top tier elites for years since I fly them so much and love all the perks, including free upgrades (when space is available), a dedicated phone line so I can usually get right through to an agent, free checked bags, twice the amount of points and more.
However, it really ticks me off when AA or any airline schedules more than what they can fly, overwork their employees, pay their executives way more than the workers who really get the planes off the ground and cut corners regarding safety.
I never thought I would write a post like this but after watching a recent CNBC interview with the head of American Airlines pilot union, the Allied Pilots Association, I’m now wondering. Dennis Tajer, who is also a 737 pilot with American Airlines, had this to say on CNBC’s ‘Squawk Box.’
Dennis blames the recent delays and cancellations as “a failure to plan by management.” Dennis says management received $13 billion from the U.S. government in payroll support but they didn’t train the pilots. “And now what we’re seeing is a failure to utilize the pilots that you do have and their backlog and training is epic. And now here’s the real problem. They’re trying to fly airplanes without the pilots available. They are pilot pushing and they are narrowing the margin of safety. Our fatigue calls have gone up tenfold, and this has just got to stop. It’s a very serious issue right now and I’m out on a trip right now and I had very little time yesterday to spare. Otherwise, I would’ve gone illegal and been unable to fly the rest of the sequence.”
Dennis goes on to say, “this is a failure of management to utilize the money that was given to them by the American taxpayer to have us ready for recovery and we’re not. They just did not have a plan. And now we’re starting to see them trying to cut corners in training. For instance, Guatemala City, which is a high terrain, very challenging airport. They used to have an experienced instructor go with us on our first flight there. Now they’re telling us, hey, why don’t you just take a look at this iPad course and you will be good to go. I think Boeing learned that’s not the way to train pilots.”
You should watch the whole interview as it’s only three minutes long but Dennis ends it with this: “You know, you gotta wonder why American Airlines right now, the US government, that books travel for our military members and federal employees has said do not book American Airlines because of the cancelation rate and the inability to rebook your flight. That’s stunning. The federal government is saying don’t book on American Airlines. They sold tickets that they know they were not going to be able to fulfill this summer. And today we have 82 of the 84 flight that have canceled for American are all coded because they could not connect the pilot to the airplane. That’s just not doing business. That’s just selling something that you don’t have.”
I have multiple flights booked on American Airlines and now I’m second guessing them. This is really disturbing to have the captain of their pilot’s union raise these red flags.
On top of this, Captain Sully Sullenberger, the hero commercial pilot who safely landed a US Airways (now American Airlines) Airbus A320 on New York’s Hudson River in 2009, announced yesterday that he would step down as U.S. envoy to an international aviation group on July 1. Reuters reports: “Sullenberger was confirmed in December as U.S ambassador to the International Civil Aviation Organization based in Montreal. He said in a statement that “relinquishing my role” was not an easy decision but did not offer a reason for his departure after just over six months. Last month, a pilots union distributed a statement from Sullenberger raising concerns about efforts by regional airlines to reduce new pilot requirements, quoting him saying they were “trying to weaken critically important pilot experience standards that are needed to keep passengers and crews safe.”
I’m not sure if I’m reading between the lines correctly but it sounds to me like Captain Sully doesn’t want to be around when things really hit the
What has your experience been like flying American Airlines the last couple of months? Have you had an AA flight delayed or canceled? How do you feel about flying American Airlines after hearing from one of their lead pilots sound the alarm? Please share your experiences below so others can discuss.