Dan Carey, president of the APA, sent a letter to U.S. pilots on Thursday, The Street reports. His memo said that the airline’s “binary measure of operational success” led to nearly 20,000 standby passengers being left at the gate last month.
“While our union brother and sister gate agents are under extraordinary pressure to close the jet bridge and aircraft doors no matter what, we must do everything possible to ensure that no passengers are left behind while seats are empty,” he added.
According to the website FlightStats, American Airlines (AAL, +2.63%) was sixth best in terms of global on-time airline rankings in February 2017. This is a major increase from just six months before, in August 2016, when the carrier was ranked 26th in terms of its punctuality.
A spokesperson from American Airlines told Fortune that the airline “has policies and procedures in place to ensure standby passengers and employees are accommodated when we have open seats.”
The statement added that the APA claim is based on an internal airline report that overstates the number of standby passengers left behind: “It’s imprecise and not representative of reality because it reflects all passengers on the standby list, even though many are not physically present at the gate area during the boarding process. This and many other factors cause any reporting on unaccommodated passengers to be significantly inflated.”