American Airlines is scrambling to correct a computer glitch that could throw the holidays of thousands of passengers into disarray.
The flaw, which gave too many pilots time off in December, has left more than 15,000 flights without sufficient crew, putting them at risk for cancellation, according to Fort Worth, Texas-based union the Allied Pilots Association.
The union, which represents 15,000 American Airlines pilots, said that the failure occurred the Friday after Thanksgiving within the pilot schedule bidding system.
American Airlines spokeswoman Alexis Aran Coello said the airline itself doesn't have an estimate of how many flights are affected, but added that it's "working diligently to address the issue and expects to avoid cancellations this holiday season."
The airline is tapping into its reserve pilots to help cover December flights, and paying pilots who pick up certain open trips 1.5 times their hourly rate, "as much as we are allowed to pay them per the contract."
"We're three weeks away and have lots of time to get it back to normal," Aran Coello said. "We don't anticipate there to be disruption and we're working hard to ensure that we get our customers to where they're going."
While the holidays are never a good time for a glitch, the volume of travel during this holiday season may make the timing particularly challenging.
According to a poll of 1,300 travelers by Airfarewatchdog, 46 percent said they plan to fly this holiday season — the highest figure since 2013.
"This sentiment can be attributed to the recent pricing competition amongst legacy and discount carriers that seem to have travelers feeling that even though holiday fares are more expensive, they're attainable," the airfare deals website said.