Over 1,800 American Airlines flights were been canceled across the U.S. Halloween weekend and thousands of passengers are spending more time in South Florida than planned, as Miami International’s biggest carrier is struggling to get planes in the air.
The airline is blaming staffing issues touched off by weather problems late last week at the hub in Dallas.
83 American Airlines departures from MIA were canceled Sunday, more than a third of its flights on Halloween, after dozens were canceled Saturday.
The company’s Chief Operating Officer David Seymour wrote to employees that because of “…two days of severe winds at DFW…we could only use two runways instead of the usual five” beginning last Thursday.
That, combined with short staffing, set off a cascade effect.
“Crew members end up out of their regular sequences,” Seymour wrote.
To some, like Francine Rousseaux, it’s more than an inconvenience.
“My sister just gave birth. She had a C-section. My mom is in wheelchair,” Rousseaux said.
The next flight to her destination, Turks and Caicos, is Wednesday.
“So I’m trying to see if it’s even possible to get it in because this is an emergency,” she said.
Others are skeptical of the airline’s excuses.
“Nine minutes before we’re about to board they tell us they supposedly don’t have a crew,” passenger Julianna Saenz said. “How do you not know you don’t have a crew nine minutes before we’re going to board?”
Nine minutes is turning into two days.
“My flight now leaves Tuesday. Now I’m going to see if they compensate any way because I was not planning to stay,” Saenz said.
Passenger Aldo Ferrera also had to wait. “Yeah lack of crew. They couldn’t get a copilot for our particular flight,” Ferrera said.
He was supposed to fly to New York. Now he is being told maybe Wednesday.
“I had to work all week so I’m worried about not getting to work tomorrow,” Ferrera said.
Dozens of flights were canceled Saturday at Miami International Airport, including one to Detroit that would’ve taken Monica Velez back home.
“We got a message saying that the flight got canceled,” Velez said.
She and other passengers got a text message a few hours before the flight.
“It said choose another flight,” Velez said. “But, they don’t have flights available til Monday or Tuesday. I have to work Monday and I have a nine-year-old at home. Tomorrow is Halloween. What can we do?”
In total, American canceled nearly 460 flights across the country Saturday, according to the site Flight Aware.
“I’m trying to see if they refund me,” Velez said. “I’ll get another airline even if I have to pay more money.”
The company released a statement saying they’ve adjusted their operation this month for the last few days by proactively canceling some flights.
The cancellations come on the heels of other airlines like Spirit and Southwest recently canceling flights across the U.S. due to staffing issues.
American says most of their customers have been able to rebook the same day.
But, for Velez and some others trying to find a way home, that’s not the case.
“I have to make it there,” Velez said.
The company says in November and December they expect to have extra staffing, including new flight attendants, team members, and pilots.