Dysfunction from American Airlines cancellations continues at LaGuardia Airport

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Monday, November 1, 2021
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Dysfunction continued at American Airlines after cancelling thousands of flights over the weekend, and LaGuardia Airport was no exception Monday.

EAST ELMHURST, Queens (WABC) -- There's a mad scramble at American Airlines to get flights back on track after a mass cancellation of flights over the weekend.

At LaGuardia Airport Monday night, things looked pretty normal with American Airlines flights coming and going.

But it's in the baggage claim, that this weekend's dysfunction shows up in full force.

People are without their bags and bags are without their people.

They didn't even offer an apology. She just said, 'what do you want me to do?' I said I want my bags," American Airlines customer Jeff Smith said.

The airline re-routed Smith and his coworker Jennifer Simmons through Cincinnati when their nonstop flight from Charlotte was cancelled.

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"They cancelled like 30% of the flights," Smith said.

Officially, the culprit is a windstorm in Dallas -- America's largest hub.

"But the airline can't schedule more flights than they can reliably operate," said Henry Hartveldt of Atmosphere Research.

Harteveldt, an airline anaylyst, says American Airlines simply bit off more than it could chew.

Demand for travel has taken off, but thousands of employees are still grounded and undergoing retraining after their COVID furloughs.

The resulting disruptions left pilots and flight attendants out of position across the country, and the cancellations multiplied.

There were 343 on Friday, 548 on Saturday and more than a thousand on Sunday.

Just two weeks ago, it was Southwest with a meltdown of its own which, like American, lags when it comes to pilot vaccinations.

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And Harteveldt sees turbulence ahead.

"The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, November 24, is the last day airline employees in the U.S. can get vaccinated," he said. "So, I'm really concerned about American and Southwest's ability to operate the schedules that they publish."

"We're driving 10 hours to Florida cause I will not get on a plane and deal with this crap over Thanksgiving," American Airlines customer Jennifer Simmons said.

It's too late for this past weekend, but American Airlines did clear 1,800 formally furloughed flight attendants to get back to the skies starting Monday, and they say their schedule will be back to normal this week.

But winter's approaching along with winter weather. And the holidays could be pretty bumpy.

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