American Airlines carrier suddenly cancels Charlotte flights, prompting passenger fury

Disgruntled passengers at Charlotte’s airport are letting American Airlines have it on social media after a “technical issue” left thousands stranded at the airport overnight.

Between 100 and 120 flights out of Charlotte were abruptly canceled late Thursday, media outlets reported. None were expected to resume in Charlotte until noon Friday, reported Charlotte Douglas International Airport in a tweet.

Rental car companies at the airport told TV station WSOC they had run out of vehicles and were rushing more to the airport to meet the demand.

The increasingly angry passengers were scheduled to leave Charlotte on Thursday and Friday on flights operated by PSA Airlines, a regional carrier owned by American Airlines.

The social media outcry exploded after PSA canceled all its remaining flights late Thursday from Charlotte Douglas International Airport. PSA is a regional carrier and handles 800 flights each day from across the east coast to nearly 100 sites, according to the PSA web site.

American blamed “a technical issue” but did not elaborate in a tweet at 9:13 p.m. A tweet from the airport sent shortly after 8 a.m. Friday said PSA “plans to resume their operations” at noon Friday.

“Our team is working hard to resolve the issue as quickly as possible and accommodate customers,” American Airlines tweeted late Thursday.

WSOC reports travelers stuck at the airport grew increasingly angry as their one-hour wait for any kind of help turned to eight hours and longer. Among the stranded people was a school group from Ohio forced to sleep on the airport’s floor after waiting six hours for help, the station reported.

In all, the airline canceled 275 flights on Thursday night through Friday.

American Airlines sent the following statement overnight to the Observer’s news partner, WBTV:

“Our team, in coordination with PSA, is working hard to resolve the issue as quickly as possible and take care of our customers by accommodating them on mainline flights or other regional carriers. We never want to disrupt our customers’ travel plans, and we are sorry for the trouble this caused. Our customer relations team will be reaching out to all of those who have been impacted by this issue.”

On Friday morning, many stranded passengers were complaining the airline was not moving fast enough.

“Quickly?” one disgruntled flier tweeted with a photo of hundreds of passengers packed together in the airport. “This was over four hours ago.”

“Really sucks the customer service line at Charlotte, NC is all the way through two terminals,” another flier tweeted.

Tweeted an upset mom: “So missed flight, clothes soaked in breastmilk, missing luggage, in serious pain, no place to sleep, screaming baby in another state. We’ve all got important reasons to be home – you can do better than this, right?”

Headquartered in Dayton, Ohio, PSA has flight crew based at Charlotte Douglas and five other airports, and maintenance facilities at Charlotte Douglas and seven other airports.

Regional carriers are used by major airlines as a cost savings measure, according to the website OneMileAtATime.com. The staff is paid less than staff at a major airline, and uses smaller planes and covers destinations that often attract fewer passengers, the site reports.

PSA’s website says the airline operates 35 Bombardier CRJ200 aircraft, 40 Bombardier CRJ700 aircraft and 54 Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067; @jmarusak

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