American Airlines has grounded a flight attendant who got into an aggressive verbal confrontation with a passenger after allegedly taking away another passenger’s baby stroller.
Here’s the full statement, via CNN:
“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.”
The dramatic scene was captured on video by passenger Surain Adyanthaya, who posted it to Facebook on Friday, along with the caption:
OMG! AA Flight attendant violently took a stroller from a lady with her baby on my flight, hitting her and just missing the baby. Then he tried to fight a passenger who stood up for her. AA591 from SFO to DFW.
The video begins after the alleged hitting occurred, but it does show an unidentified woman holding a baby and sobbing at the front of the plane, a pilot standing impassively nearby.
“You can’t use violence with a baby,” she says. “Just give me back my stroller, please.” A pair of female flight attendants attempt to calm her.
As the scene unfolds, a male passenger, identified as Tony Fierro, becomes increasingly irate, walking to the front of the plane and demanding to know “the guy’s name who did that with the stroller.”
Eventually, the “guy,” an American Airlines flight attendant, enters the frame, prompting Fierro to once again spring from his seat.
“Hey bud, you do that to me and I’ll knock you flat,” Fierro says, approaching the flight attendant.
The attendant shouts at Fierro to “stay out of this,” and the two get in each other’s faces. “Hit me,” the attendant says repeatedly. “Come on, bring it on.” Several members of the flight staff struggle to separate them, including the pilot.
The attendant eventually allows himself to be taken back to the front of the plane, and Fierro returns to his seat, apparently at the behest of a woman traveling with him. “Tony, sit down,” she’s heard saying. “We want to go home.” The pilot walks in and out through the cockpit door, which appears to be hanging open throughout the duration of the episode, so...good thing no one decided to go in there!
Fierro later told CBS-affiliate WTSP that “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 out of it.”
Another witness, Olivia Morgan, told Q13 Fox that the altercation started after the flight attendant aggressively pulled the stroller away from the female passenger:
“The flight attendant wrestled the stroller away from the woman, who was sobbing, holding one baby with the second baby in a car seat on the ground next to her,” she said.
Morgan said the flight attendant was “violent” when taking the metal stroller from the woman and nearly hit the baby with the stroller.
“He stormed by me with the stroller and I said something like, ‘What are you doing? You almost hit that baby!’ And he yelled at me to ‘stay out of it!’ just like he does in the video,” she said.
Morgan said she talked to the woman about the incident. The woman said a female flight attendant told her she could look for space to store the stroller because it folds up very small, but if there was no available space, she would need to check it at the gate.
“She was looking for space when the male attendant tried to take it away from her… and she said she told him the other attendant had told her it was okay to look,” she said.
The incident comes on the heels of another in-flight confrontation, this one perpetrated by United Airlines, in which a passenger was violently dragged from the plane after refusing to give it up.