A few days ago I posted about how a computer glitch at American caused 15,000 flights over the holidays to be scheduled without pilots. This impacted flights between December 17 and 31, 2017, where apparently pilots were able to “trade” off holiday trips, even without having found replacements (understandably most pilots don’t want to work over the holidays if they can avoid it, so when pilots had the opportunity to trade off trips, they did).
American’s solution was to offer 50% overtime pay to any pilots who pick up a trip over the impacted period, which the union wasn’t happy with, since they weren’t consulted about it. Not surprisingly, this got a ton of media attention. The following morning American put out a press release claiming that “only a few hundred [flights] are currently unassigned to pilots.” That sure makes you wonder. Did they really manage to go from 15,000 unassigned flights to just “a few hundred” unassigned flights overnight? I’m certainly skeptical.
The good news is that American and the union have come to an agreement, so I think it’s safe to assume that all of our American flights over the holidays will operate as scheduled (at least as it relates to this fiasco). They certainly want the union on their side here to ensure that there doesn’t end up being any disagreement over the terms of the arrangement. According to Forbes, American will be paying some pilots double time to pick up trips over the holidays:
In a meeting Friday with representatives from the Allied Pilots Association, the carrier agreed to double time pay, said a person familiar with the discussion.
American had initially offered to pay time and a half, but APA leaders said the carrier had not consulted the union on the remedy.
All of the pilots who agreed to the time and a half remedy will automatically be kicked up to double time, the person, who asked not to be identified, told Forbes. Additionally, double time will also be offered to some of the reserve pilots who pick up holiday trips, the person said.
While a 50% bonus isn’t that unusual over the holidays, a 100% bonus is significant, especially given how well American pilots are already paid. Just to give an example, a 12th year 777 captain earns $323 per hour, so that pilot would be paid $646 per hour over the holidays. Here’s to hoping that a few pilots were able to pick up a Dallas to Hong Kong flight. That’s blocked at 17 hours, meaning a 777 captain would be paid a cool ~$11,000 for the one-way trip. Nevermind the fact that they get to sleep for half of it, since there are four pilots.
(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)