American Airlines cancelled more than 1,700 flights over Halloween weekend, including more than 800 on Sunday alone, due to weather and staff shortages, the company said.
The cancellations are just the latest in a months-long struggle airlines have been facing as travel has picked up again in the pandemic. While demand has been steadily rebounding, carriers remain hamstrung by staff cuts put in place more than a year and a half ago when COVID-19 began to decimate the industry.
American Airlines says that 343 were cancelled on Friday, followed by another 548 cancellations on Saturday. Most of the cancelled flights were coming to and from the airline’s main hub in Dallas/Fort Worth, as well as in Charlotte, N.C.
In a letter to staff sent out Saturday, the company’s chief operating officer, David Seymour, said the company “proactively” cancelled flights on Sunday because of severe winds in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and a shortage of crews.
“Most of the customers being impacted by these changes are being rebooked the same day, ” Seymour wrote, “We apologize for having to make these changes.”
On the staffing front, Seymour said 1,800 flight attendants are returning from leave in November, and that the company will add 600 new flight attendants by the end of the year.
Weather and staffing shortages are the same reasons American cited when they cancelled nearly a thousand flights in July. And they aren’t the only airline that’s been facing this problem.
Earlier this month, Southwest Airlines cited issues with with weather and air traffic control, cancelling one thousand flights over a weekend. Spirit Airline also cancelled hundreds of flights on a single day in August.
Reaction to the cancelled flights has been swift, and unsurprisingly critical, on social media, as well, with photos showing long lines for re-booking flights.
Dakota Staren, a Washington D.C. resident, said her flight to Phoenix, Ariz., that had a layover in Charlotte, was cancelled just 90 minutes before departure.
She was already on the way to the airport when she found out and tried re-booking on the airline’s app and over the phone with no success.
“I was on hold for an hour and a half with no avail,” Staren told NPR, calling the experience frustrating; she had to miss a funeral because of the cancellation.