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October 5th, 2012
08:49 AM ET

CNN's George Howell on American Airlines cancelling flights to fix seats

American Airlines and its passengers continue to face a trail of troubles this morning. More flights have been cancelled, leaving planes and passengers motionless on the ground, and forcing ticket-holders to make alternative travel arrangements.

Forty-eight Boeing 757’s have been called in for maintenance after passenger seats came loose on three different flights. The airline believes the reason for the malfunction is something called a “seat lock plunger”. CNN’s George Howell comes to “Early Start” this morning to explain the details.

A seat lock plunger is “basically a lock and pin system,” Howell says. American Airlines told CNN affiliate WFAA that “it came down to soft drinks, came to cokes and coffee, that had spilled and over time that contributed to the wear and tear of the system,” Howell reports. Eventually the spills caused the seat lock plungers to go into the unlocked position and come loose on three flights within a week’s time. American Airlines is now working on 48 of these 757 planes to “retrofit them with another mechanism to keep these seats affixed to the floor.”

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