FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – American Airlines pilots deny an intentional slowdown, but they admit they area angry over new, less favorable work rules – which include more work, lower pay, and less sick time.

Meanwhile, customers suspect something is going on. Ben Baker says when he flew to Las Vegas from DFW two weeks ago, he spent an hour and a half parked at the gate.

“The pilot gave us kind of a rundown of what was happening,” says Baker. “That the co-pilot was late.”

Baker says when the co-pilot finally arrived, the plane pulled away. But then, it suddenly needed maintenance. Baker says a flight attendant explained it was the pilots’ way of protesting…

“She had mentioned, she had 9 legs on her current trip and every one of them was delayed, and she thought it was retaliation.”

American Airlines says it has seen an increase in maintenance reports filed by field crews – and a jump in the number of pilots calling in sick. As a result, the company says it is cancelling up to two percent of its flights for September and October.

The pilots union – however – denies the allegations.

“The association, pilots union has in no way organized, condoned, or supported any kind of sick out, any kind of job action… period,” says union spokesperson Tom Hoban.

He says the pilots’ use of sick days has gone down in recent months. Instead, he blames the airline for problems.

“They’re laying off thousands of mechanics and they’re closing our maintenance facility at alliance, right now. All that has a cumulative effect on the profession. So you’re going to see some pilots exercising more caution.”

Customers, though, seem wary. They feel one way or another they’ll pay the price.

“Everyone was frustrated and felt we were unduly targeted because of this dispute,” says Baker.

According to Flight Aware’s website, which tracks flights worldwide, American cancelled 64 flights on September 17. That’s more than any other airline. American was also at the top of the list for September 18 and topping the list for September 19.

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