Oops! Computer glitch lets too many American Airlines pilots take Christmas off

computer glitch american airlines christmas plane
Markus Mainka/123RF
Computers. Aren’t they supposed to make our lives easier? Officials at American Airlines must be using a few choice words about the company’s computer systems this week after it emerged that a glitch allowed too many of its pilots to book time off over the Christmas period.

As a result of the hiccup, American is now frantically trying to persuade its pilots to change their plans and come in to work during one of the busiest times of the year.

In a statement, the carrier said it’s “working diligently to address the issue and expect to avoid cancellations this holiday season.”

The Allied Pilots Association (APA) estimated that more than 15,000 American flights scheduled between December 17 and 31 have been affected by the computer error.

APA spokesperson Dennis Tajer, speaking to CNBC on Wednesday, November 29, said there is currently “a crisis at American for manning the cockpits.”

He added that the computer system “went from responsibly scheduling everybody, to becoming Santa Claus to everyone. The computer said, ‘Hey ya’ll, you want the days off? You got it.'”

In an effort to get pilots to alter their plans and climb back into the cockpit over Christmas, American is offering 150 percent of their hourly rate on some routes. It’s also calling on its roster of reserve pilots to help out.

American is by no means the only carrier that’s had to deal with computer glitches over the last couple of years. In January 2017, both Delta and United were hit with issues that caused flight delays across the U.S.

Delta had an even bigger problem in the summer of 2016 when a computer system outage at its hub in Georgia, Atlanta, resulted in the cancellation and grounding of flights around the world.

The technical issues are an indication of the sheer complexity of the computer systems powering the airlines’ global operations, with every glitch, bug, and snag costing an affected carrier potentially millions of dollars, along with a hit to their reputation.

Flying with American between December 17 and 31? Then you’d better consider contacting the airline to make sure your plane has a pilot.

If you fear the worst, check out Digital Trends’ informative piece about what you can do when a tech meltdown grounds your flight.

Emerging Tech

The U.S. Army is building a giant VR battlefield to train soldiers virtually

Imagine if the U.S. Army was able to rehearse battlezone scenarios dozens, or even hundreds, or times before settling foot on actual terrain. Thanks to virtual reality, that's now a possibility.
Business

British Airways’ new Club Suite for business class comes with a door

British Airways is going after a bigger slice of the business class market with the imminent launch of the Club Suite. The plush seating option offers a more private space as well as an easier route to the bathroom.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Emerging Tech

U.S. hops on Boeing ban bandwagon, grounds 737 Max planes until further notice

The U.S. government, led by an executive order from President Donald Trump, has issued instructions that Boeing must ground all 737 Max aircraft operating inside the United States.
Cars

Nvidia’s new simulator brings virtual learning to autonomous vehicle developers

Nvidia introduced a simulator for testing autonomous vehicle technologies. Drive Constellation is a cloud-based platform technology vendors can use to validate systems efficiently, safely, and much faster than with vehicles on real roads.
Photography

Paper designs digitize in real time using an Illustrator-connected paper tablet

Love graphic design, but prefer the feel of real paper? The new Moleskine Paper Tablet - Creative Cloud Connected syncs with Adobe Illustrator in real time, turning paper sketches into digital drawings.
Product Review

4K and 144Hz? Yup, the Acer Predator XB3 will max out your gaming PC

The Predator XB3 isn’t for the faint of heart. But if you have a system that can push over 100 frames per second in 4K screen resolution, this monster of a monitor might be the perfect match for your overpowered gaming rig.
Computing

Make the most of your toner with our five favorite color laser printers

Color laser printers have improved dramatically over the years, and today's models offer both blazing print speeds and great image quality. Here are our favorite color laser printers, from massive all-in-ones to smaller budget options.
Computing

Firefox 66 is here and it will soon block irritating autoplay videos

Do web advertisements have you frustrated? Mozilla is here to help. The latest version of the browser will soon block autoplaying videos by default and will also help make web page scrolling smoother.
Computing

USB4 will be the fastest and most uniform USB standard yet

USB4 is on the horizon and alongside a massive boost in speed it's also unifying with the Thunderbolt 3 standard to help finally create a singular wired connection protocol that all devices can enjoy.
Computing

The U.S. government plans to drop $500M on a ridiculously powerful supercomputer

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced plans to build a $500 million exascale supercomputer by 2021. The project, known as the Aurora supercomputer, is expected to boost research efforts in fields such as public health.
Buying Guides

Apple has powered up its iMac lineup, but which one should you opt for?

With new processors and graphics cards for both the 4K and 5K models, the iMac feels like a good option for creatives again. But which should you buy? Here's our guide to choosing the right Apple all-in-one for your needs.
Computing

HP spring sale: Save up to 58 percent on laptops, desktops, printers, and more

From now until March 23, the HP spring sale lets you take as much as 58 percent off of a huge range of laptops, desktop PCs, printers, and more, potentially saving you more than $1,000. We’ve rounded up a dozen of the best deals right…
Computing

Yes, Apple’s new iMacs look great, but they do have one glaring problem

With processors ranging up to the eight-core Core i9, the 2019 iMac update looks like a pretty solid upgrade to Apple's classic all-in-one. But hidden in the details of the product page, there's one outdated component Apple is holding onto.