(NEW YORK) — American Airlines has canceled more than 2,000 flights since Friday — stranding tens of thousands of passengers temporarily at U.S. airports across the country. American is just the latest airline to suffer crippling logistical failures amid staffing shortages.
The airline said high winds at its Dallas-Fort Worth hub on Thursday left flight crews out of their regular position and sparked the dayslong cancellations.
“The problem with most of the large airlines is if they if one hub sneezes, the other hubs catch colds,” aviation expert Henry Harteveldt told ABC News. “The airlines’ networks are all interconnected.”
American COO David Seymour said in an internal memo that in order to provide scheduling certainty for their crews, they were forced to proactively cancel some flights “for the last few days this month.”
American has already canceled 300 flights Monday morning, but anticipates they will get through “the brief irregular ops period quickly with the start of a new month.”
“Unfortunately, when bad weather hits an airline at the end of the month, the problems are exacerbated because often crews are out of the legal amount of time they’re allowed to work,” Harteveldt said.
A staffing boost from the 1,800 American flight attendants set to return from leave Monday should help American re-stabilize this week, experts said.
Southwest had a similar operational meltdown three weeks ago when the airline canceled 2,000 flights over three days.
The airline blamed the multi-day mess on air traffic control issues, bad weather and “other external constraints.”
In response, Southwest said it’s going to hire more than 5,000 employees by the end of the year to mitigate future issues and has 50% of the goal met.
Experts are worried American and Southwest’s inability to stabilize their schedules quickly is a potential warning of what’s to come this winter.
With airlines booking their flights to 100% capacity, experts are concerned there is no wiggle room left in the system to recover if a major airline suffers any logistical failure during the busy travel season.
“The chaos that is the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday travel season will be even more chaotic this year,” Harteveldt said.
ABC News’ Annie Ochitwa and Sam Sweeney contributed to this report.
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