Christie: American Airlines joins the unfriendly skies… Who’s next?
It appears that U.S. air carriers cannot catch a break these days.
You almost feel sorry for them … almost. Truth is, most air travelers, even if their flying experience has been 99.9 percent trouble-free are feeling somehow vindicated for the incident accounting for that .1 percent.
Video of almost every tense incident involving a passenger is finding its way onto Facebook Live, YouTube, Twitter, SnapChat or whatever. And then onto cable and network news, and so on.
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An American Airlines passenger jet takes off from Miami International Airport in Miami. The company said it grounded a flight attendant who got into a verbal confrontation with a passenger after taking a baby stroller away from another passenger on a Friday flight from San Francisco to Dallas-Fort Worth. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
The latest involves Dallas-based American Airlines, which is now investigating after a video surfaced on social media showing a confrontation between a passenger and a flight attendant aboard one of its flights.
The video, filmed by another passenger last Friday, appears to be the aftermath of an incident during boarding of a flight from San Francisco to Dallas. It does not show what happened beforehand.
The video of the encounter starts off with a woman sobbing as she holds a baby. “Just give me back my stroller please,” she says tearfully.
A male passenger stands up and intervenes, apparently upset with how the woman’s situation was handled. He tells the flight attendant, “Hey bud, hey bud. You do that to me, and I’ll knock you flat.”
The flight attendant tells the male passenger to stay out of it, then later taunts him to “hit me, hit me … bring it on.”
From the video, it’s unclear why the woman is distraught. Surain Adyanthaya, who posted the video to Facebook on Friday, said that before the footage, the flight attendant had “violently” taken the stroller, hitting the woman in the process and narrowly missing her baby.
Adyanthaya later posted the airline had “escorted the mother and her kids off the flight” and let the flight attendant back on.
It doesn’t help that this incident comes two weeks after a United Airlines passenger was dragged from his seat and off a plane by Chicago aviation police. United was widely criticized on social media and by industry professionals for the conflicting statements it put out afterward, initially siding with its employees and appearing to blame the passenger.
American learned something from that. They quickly responded: “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,” it said in a statement.
“We are deeply sorry for the pain we have caused this passenger and her family and to any other customers affected by the incident.”
American said it upgraded the woman to first class for the rest of her trip and the attendant has been “removed from duty” as it investigates.
But with the amount of flights and passengers, we’re likely to see one of these a week. How many of us haven’t been on a flight where an unruly passenger pushes things to the limit?
How long before a captain simply says, “We’re not taking off until the passenger in 15A peacefully allows a flight attendant to check their bag”? Then what?