American Airlines Continues to Have Operational, Technical Woes


It has not been a good month for American Airlines. They won a court ruling against their pilots but their operational performance since then has been impressively bad. And even with the potential of resuming negotiations with the pilots things don’t appear to be getting better on that front. It is hard to be a customer of an airline where flights are arriving on-time only 60% of the time.

One passenger on an affected flight—delayed more than 30 hours en route from Paris to New York City due to mechanical issues on the plane—managed to get his story published in the New York Times. It is in the Opinions section so it should be taken as such but the rant is there and the frustration is real.

The operational issues are frustrating, to be sure, but not nearly as scary as incidents on three separate flights in the past few days where seats came loose from the floor. The company has confirmed that three flights, operated by Boeing 757 aircraft, had issues with their seats not remaining properly attached to the mounting rails. One version of the story called the situation in-flight "like a carnival ride."

Some rumblings from unnamed "airline insiders" are suggesting that the issue may be related to non-union employees who recently started performing maintenance on some American Airlines aircraft. The company issued a statement saying, among other things, that "The issue does not seem to be tied to any one maintenance facility or one work group." That’s almost less comforting to passengers as it suggests they likely do not know exactly what is going on yet. The company insists that the incidents are not the result of sabotage by employees but even just the mention of that possibility is worrisome. The airline has acknowledged that the aircraft in question were all subject to maintenance processes recently which required that the seats be removed and reinstalled on the planes.

Eight aircraft have been taken out of service for inspections (that’s not going to help with the on-time performance or cancelation issues) and workers in Boston were seen removing full rows of seats from aircraft, likely for further inspection.

Nope. Definitely not a good month to be American Airlines.

Photo credits: American Airlines planes via Shutterstock