American Airlines Apologizes for Disruptions, Blames Software

 - April 22, 2013, 1:00 PM
American Airlines operations at Dallas/Fort Worth and throughout the U.S. returned to normal last Wednesday following a massive disruption a day earlier due to a computer software “glitch.” (Photo: American Airlines)

American Airlines CEO Tom Horton issued an online video apology following a failure of the company’s computer systems last Tuesday, forcing the virtual seizure of its network. The outage affected both mainline American and its American Eagle regional affiliates, which together canceled some 1,000 flights–amounting to nearly two-thirds of the company’s daily operations–and delayed roughly 1,100 by early Tuesday evening.

The computer problems began around mid-morning and lasted until roughly 4:30 p.m. New York time, by which time thousands of passengers sat stranded at airports throughout the country while American scrambled to regain access to its reservations system.

“As you’d imagine we do have redundancies in our systems, but unfortunately in this case we had a software issue that impacted both our primary and backup systems,” said Horton.

The CEO also addressed several reports of American’s failure to immediately communicate to its customers the nature of the delays. “Our people have been working hard to take care of our customers and keep everyone informed,” insisted Horton. “We’ve accommodated customers with other travel options, refunds and the ability to change plans at no charge, and we communicated with our customers and our people through every channel.”

The airline operated seven additional flights on Wednesday out of Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Angeles to accommodate customers still affected by the disruption, according to an AA spokesman.

The spokesman told AIN that operations returned to normal on Wednesday following the cancellation that day of 81 flights due to aircraft and crew repositioning. The airline attributed the remainder of the total of some 300 flights canceled on Wednesday to severe weather in the Midwestern U.S., affecting primarily Chicago O’Hare International Airport.