Hopefully you're not flying American Airlines this Christmas

An IT gaffe has given too many pilots time off for the holidays.

Anyone booked on an American Airlines flight over Christmas faces an anxious wait to see if it'll actually go.

That's because the airline's computer system mistakenly approved holiday time off requests for too many pilots, leaving the company shorthanded during December.

The Verge reports it will leave as many as 15,000 American Airlines flights without enough crew during the holiday rush.

"The airline is a 24/7 op," Dennis Tajer, an American Airlines captain, told CNBC. "The system went from responsibly scheduling everybody to becoming Santa Claus to everyone.

"The computer said, 'Hey ya'll. You want the days off? You got it.'"

American flies 9 direct routes from Minneapolis-St. Paul, including New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, as well as taking connecting passengers to hundreds of cities across the world.

The company is now scrambling to try and rectify the error, offering pilots 1.5 times their usual pay to persuade them to cancel their holiday plans.

The Allied Pilots Association says it was told about the failure with the "pilot schedule bidding system" on Friday, and as a result "thousands of flights currently do not have pilots assigned to fly them during the upcoming critical holiday period."

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