In news that will evoke emotions ranging from severe disappointment to sweet relief, depending on your true feelings about going home for the holidays, it appears that—for American Airlines customers anyway—there’s a chance that Christmas might be canceled this year. That’s thanks to a computer glitch that allowed the airline’s pilots to all take time off en masse between December 17 and December 31, leaving thousands of Christmas-season flights without anyone to pilot them.
Dennis Tajer, a spokesperson for pilots’ union Allied Pilots Association, is cheerful about the situation in an interview with NPR, describing the pilot shortage as a “man-made snowstorm” and the computer glitch that caused it as “Santa Claus to everyone.” As he puts it, “the computer said, ‘Hey y’all. You want the days off? You got it.’” American is now offering pilots 150 percent of their usual hourly rate to pick up open trips, and a spokesman promises that all the flights will be covered and the company will “get our customers to where they need to go over the holidays.” You don’t have to tell great-aunt Kathy that if you’d rather stay home and watch TV than try to fly to Fort Worth on Christmas Eve, though. We won’t tell.