WASHINGTON — Editor's Note: American is continuing to update the total cancellation numbers Sunday. This article reflects numbers provided as of 6:30 p.m.
American Airlines was forced to cancel more than 1,800 flights over the weekend due to staffing shortages and inclement weather, according to an airline spokesperson.
Sunday travelers felt the brunt of the situation, with nearly 20% of the day's travel schedule (980+ flights) canceled, as airports nationwide were still reeling from Friday and Saturday cancellations (nearly 900 canceled flights across the two days).
"We expect considerable improvement beginning tomorrow with some residual impact from the weekend," spokesperson Shannon Gilson said.
Across the D.C. metro region, travelers at Regan National, Dulles and BWI airports were left scrambling to rearrange their canceled plans.
Local resident Alan -- who declined to give a last name -- had a trip planned to Orlando out of National Sunday afternoon. But that morning, he got a message saying his flight had been delayed by almost two hours.
"I got a text message early this morning saying that the flight that was originally scheduled for 1:45 pm was rescheduled for 3:25," Alan said. "It was okay, it gave us a little extra time to pack and so forth."
But 3:25 came and went, and the flight was making no progress towards leaving Alan said.
"At 3:25, well we have a crew issue," he added.
Alan said he was told two flight attendants were delayed, and the flight couldn't leave without the full crew.
"There are two flight attendants missing," Alan said, recounting the schedule he was given at the airport. "One is coming from some other destination and another is coming from home and is going to be here at some point. And we’ll [get] you guys on a flight."
But ultimately, Alan's flight would be canceled, leaving hundreds of his fellow passengers scrambling to regroup.
According to an AA statement, the airline is expecting nearly 1,800 flight attendants to return from leave on Monday, with the rest coming back by Dec.1. The company also plans to hire at least 600 new flight attendants. Ahead of a usually busy travel season, American said it intends to add 4,000 total new employees from pilots to reservation team members.
American's troubles began late in the week, when high winds at times shut down flights and prevented the airline from using all runways at its busiest hub, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. That made it difficult for American to get crews in position for upcoming flights, and the cancellations and delays grew worse through Saturday and Sunday.
“To make sure we are taking care of our customers and providing scheduling certainty for our crews, we have adjusted our operation for the last few days this month by proactively canceling some flights,” David Seymour, the airline's chief operating officer, said in a note to employees on Saturday.
Seymour said American was able to put most of the stranded travelers on other flights the same day.
Earlier in October, Southwest canceled well over 2,000 flights after disruptions that started with weather problems in Florida and were compounded by staffing shortages.