A video appearing to show an intense confrontation between passengers and an American Airlines flight attendant on a Dallas-bound flight has resulted in that attendant being removed from duty in very short order.
Surain Adyanthaya took the video saying the altercation happened on flight 591 while at the gate in San Francisco. It was posted to the internet discussion site Reddit, on the “r/dallas” subreddit, and immediately started gaining attention before the flight had even landed at DFW.
The original poster says he was told it started over how a flight attendant dealt with a young mother who was trying to store a stroller in an overhead bin.
Near the start of the 2 minute and 40 second video, the woman can be heard crying and asking for her stroller back.
"He was very upset. He grabbed it and just pulled it off, sort of violently yanked it, and then stormed off the plane with it," Surain Adyanthaya said.
As the video continues another passenger, Tony Fierro, of Dallas, apparently upset with how the situation is being handled, gets up and approaches the front of the plane where the attendant, young mother, and other crew members are gathered. He asks for the flight attendant’s name and returns to his seat.
Other passengers can be faintly heard discussing the situation, appearing to explain to other crew members that the flight attendant grabbed the woman’s stroller.
Around 1:50 into the video, the male passenger again rejoins the situation, apparently yelling at the flight attendant saying “Hey bud, hey bud, you do that to me and I’ll knock you flat!” with the attendant getting visibly agitated and gesturing wildly at the passenger, replying “you stay out of this!”
Fierro said the situation upset him.
"A baby almost got hurt. That's what just fired me up, so that was it. I don't want to make a big deal about it," Fierro said.
Fierro gets up and approaches, with both men making gestures and saying words, but without actually coming to blows. The captain appears to put his hand on the flight attendant’s chest.
Another flight attendant appears to do her absolute best to keep the peace, trying to calm both the angry passenger and her agitated fellow attendant.
"He lost his cool. He totally lost his cool. It's unfortunate, but that's exactly what happened," Adyanthaya said.
Throughout all of the commotion, the young mother can be heard crying.
The flight landed at approximately 7:45 at DFW International Airport. American wasted no time issuing a very straight forward statement, which came out 20 minutes after landing:
“We have seen the video and have already started an investigation to obtain the facts. What we see on this video does not reflect our values or how we care for our customers. We are deeply sorry for the pain we have caused this passenger and her family and to any other customers affected by the incident. We are making sure all of her family's needs are being met while she is in our care. After electing to take another flight, we are taking special care of her and her family and upgrading them to first class for the remainder of their international trip.The actions of our team member captured here do not appear to reflect patience or empathy, two values necessary for customer care. In short, we are disappointed by these actions. The American team member has been removed from duty while we immediately investigate this incident.”
According to American Airlines, the woman tried to bring a double-wide stroller down the aisle of a single-aisle A321. The airlines said she did speak English, and she had flown from Argentina to the U.S. but forgot she needed to check in the stroller and tried to bring it on the plane with her.
The airline said it upgraded the woman and her kids to first class for the flight to Buenos Aires. She is in Argentina now.
The airlines said they agreed that the flight attendant shouldn't have gotten in the face of a passenger. He has been put on paid leave while an investigation is underway.
Bob Ross, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), released a statement that the tension of the situation came from many factors that were "beyond the control of passengers and Flight Attendants."
Here is the the following statement:
The goal of our 26,000 members is to make every flight safe and secure for our passengers and crew. All passengers deserve to be treated with respect. We also must assure that our Flight Attendants are treated respectfully and safely on board.
Our dedicated Flight Attendants at American strive every day to make the passenger experience the best in the industry. However this has become more challenging due to tight schedules, overcrowded planes, shrinking seats, and limited overhead bin space. All of these factors are related to corporate decisions beyond the control of passengers and Flight Attendants
There are really two stories here related to this incident aboard a San Francisco to Dallas flight. One, we don’t know all of the facts related to a passenger who became distraught while boarding a plane and therefore neither the company nor the public should rush to judgment.
Second, it appears another passenger may have threatened a Flight Attendant with violence, which is a violation of federal law and no small matter. Air rage has become a serious issue on our flights.
We must obtain the full facts surrounding these incidents. Our passengers and the Flight Attendants deserve nothing less.