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Florida Senator Tweets His Way Into American Airlines Pilot Dispute

October 1, 2012 at 2:58 PM | by | Comments (0)

Poor American Airlines. They try so hard to get good buzz with interesting angles, handing out iPads to their pilots and flight attendants, offering bonus miles in exchange for Hurricane Isaac donations, and expanding their baggage delivery options. They had almost recovered from their early September PR debacle, where they refused to let a teen with down syndrome board because he was a "flight risk."

But now they're trying to cope with this sort-of airline strike by their pilots, and they're not doing well. Last week a sitting member of the United States Senate—that would be one of the hundred human beings currently serving in the upper chamber of the United States Congress—tweeted his frustration with the airline. Hashtag: #cmonman.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio further noted that "every American flight" he had been on that week had been "at least two hours late or cancelled." Then he further further noted that the airline's rolling delays, which were cascading across their network as out-bound flights waited for the arrival of late connectors, were the "oldest trick in book."

The chaos stems from a dispute between American's management and pilots. The background is straightforward: American is in bankruptcy court, where a judge has linked the airline's high labor costs to its lack of financial stability. American wants to decrease pilot pay, which even the pilot's union has admitted is more than what American's competitors pay. Pilots have responded - allegedly - with work slowdowns, sick days, and flight groundings, and by in general making the entire airline "too unreliable" to book. If you want more details they involve contracts being almost accepted and then other last-minute final contracts being created and so on. But really it just looks like any airline work slowdown.

American tried to be pro-active about not screwing its customers, trimming flights and reaching out to elites to head off any problems. Their efforts were enough for a lot of travel bloggers, who rolled their eyes at less than credible statements from union reps and concluded#&151;as we have on more than one occassion—that destroying your airline's economic viability isn't a good way to secure your job, especially not with 11,000 potential layoffs looming on the horizon. But apparently the airline's efforts weren't enough for Sen. Rubio, who sided with the pilots over Twitter.

And in the background of everything: "US Airways chief says he's willing to wait for American." Tick tock.

[Photo: Grant Wickes / Flickr]

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