• The state of American Airlines?

In what can be lightly described as a “bad week” for American Airlines, the Tribune piles it on with a report that a flight from Chicago to London made two unscheduled stops on its way from O’Hare to Heathrow. The first, a medical emergency, was out of its control; but the second, the smell of smoke in the cabin . . . well. The issue was a circulatory fan, which could have been fixed in Heathrow—but, hey, if you’re floating 35,000 feet in the air over the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and you smell the odor of charcoal, you probably wouldn’t panic, would you?

The bad news keeps on coming for American Airlines, which in the past four days has had seats come loose on three flights—this caused the airline to ground eight flights today. But the real damage has come due to a union battle, as summarized in a couple posts on Slate by Matthew Yglesias yesterday. Basically, after American filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, they created new labor contracts for their pilots, which weren’t very good. Now the pilots are stalling flights and calling in sick in a union battle over new contracts, which could be solved if US Airways merges with the airline. So why wouldn’t American agree to the merger? Because its executives stand to get a huge payday out of it.

Until this issue gets resolved, expect to see more American Airlines criticism in the media. On Sunday, acclaimed author Gary Shteyngart wrote a humorous op-ed in the New York Times about his ordeal on a recent American Airlines flight, and in one of his posts from yesterday, Yglesias chronicled the hassle of a recent American flight he took.