American Airlines flights canceled at OIA over 'gunk' issue

Seats on 3 recent flights became loose

Derek Davis/CNN

ORLANDO, Fla. - American Airlines says a combination of wear, poor design and even soda spilled into the tracks can cause seats on its Boeing 757s to pop loose during flight.

The airline canceled dozens of flights Friday, including eight into and out of Orlando International Airport, while it fixes the problem.  The airline scrubbed 50 flights Thursday.

"We have identified the issue and our maintenance teams are securing an FAA-approved locking mechanism to make sure no seat can be dislodged. Repairs are complete on 40 of the 48 aircraft. All of our 757s will be back in service by Saturday," the airline said in a release.

American Airlines spokeswoman Mary Frances Fagan said that passengers spilling soda and coffee "gunked up" the seat locking mechanism over time on certain planes. 

The "gunk" affected the track on the ground "that locks the seats to the aircraft floor," she said.

Seats on at least three American Airlines flights became loose recently, unnerving passengers in the latest of a string of woes for American. The airline has also been beset in recent months by labor troubles, delays and flight cancellations.

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