Why American Airlines Canceled or Delayed Over 3,100 Flights This Week

And no, free TikTok on the flights isn't going make things better.

American Airlines planes are seen at the gates at Miami International Airport (MIA) on August 1, 2021 in Miami, Florida. The airline had over 3,100 delays or cancellations this week.
American Airlines had three days of delays due to a mix of weather and staff shortages
DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images

Good lord, what is happening to the airline industry?

We just wrote about the debacle that is Spirit Airlines this week. Concurrently, American Airlines delayed or canceled 3,100+ flights between Sunday and Tuesday of this week (and those numbers were as of Tuesday morning only). According to the travel site One Mile at a Time, that means that there were moments when over half of the scheduled flights by American were either late or not flying at all.

The culprits here? Start with weather issues at Dallas, where the airline has its largest hub. Add in a surge of travel demand but a lack of employees and spare planes (all due to, yes, fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic) and you have a perfect storm, which includes actual storms. “When there are delays, cancelations, etc., airlines often need to find new crews to work flights, since crews will ‘time out’ (meaning they can’t work anymore, because they’ve exceeded their maximum hours),” writes Ben Schlappig of One Mile at a Time. “Well, those crews simply aren’t available right now.”

According to the Dallas Morning News, more than three-quarters of American’s flight cancellations on Tuesday were due to crew availability.

So, what if this happened or happens to you? Schlappig suggests that the airline will probably claim weather as the cause and attempt to avoid any sort of compensation (those long lines at customer service desks at the airports aren’t going to help you, either). The American Airlines website offers no help whatsoever, as their lead story (from Monday) is “American Airlines Takes TikTok to New Heights with Free Inflight Access for Customers.” And while tagging American Airlines on Twitter might provide some emotional release, it didn’t appear to help anyone who was stuck.

One suggestion offered by Schlappig: Call American’s foreign call centers, where wait times might not last hours. And hope that your credit card offers some sort of travel delay coverage.

If you feel like postponing your upcoming American Airlines flight, the carrier has no change fees for domestic, short-haul international and select long-haul international flying on Premium Cabin, Premium Economy and Main Cabin fares. Basic Economy fares bought on or after April 1, 2021, however, are non-refundable and non-changeable.


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