American Airlines Explains Why Seats Have Come Loose on Planes

American Airlines planes sit at a gate at Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011. American Airlines and its parent company are filing for bankruptcy protection as they try to cut costs and unload massive debt built up by years of high fuel prices and labor struggles
"We got no money, laying off workers, our planes' seats are falling off!!!" Photo: Susan Walsh/AP/Corbis

An American Airlines spokesperson said Tuesday that the troubled airline has identified why seats have come loose mid-flight on three of its planes over the past several days: improperly installed saddle clamps at the foot of the seat that help lock the seats to the cabin floor, reports the Los Angeles Times. "The issue does not seem to be tied to any one maintenance facility or one workgroup," said airline spokeswoman Andrea Huguely. "American regrets the inconvenience that this maintenance issue may have caused customers on affected flights."

American is inspecting the clamps that are fitted on 47 of the airline's 102 Boeing 757 jets. The airline is also conducting an internal investigation and will report its findings to the Federal Aviation Administration, which is conducting its own review.

American is currently mired in labor disputes with its pilots and other workers and has said the seats problem was unrelated to that strife. The airline had used its own maintenance crew as well as contractors to install the seats.

Said Robert Gless, head of the Transport Workers Union of America, which represents American's mechanics: "Problems related to seats are less likely a labor problem, but rather a management issue related to outsourcing work to third-party facilities."

To the ticket-buying public, it may not matter who was responsible for the error.