American Airlines Flight Attendant Hits Mom With A Stroller? AA591 SFO-DFW

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Seems that it is now American Airlines turn to demonstrate how badly the airlines in the United States treat their passengers and how hot headed some flight attendants can be (shouldn’t be in the business).

Female passenger with kids tried to store a stroller in the overhead compartment (some are certified to be within the limits of cabin bags) and this male flight attendant ended up grabbing it from the passenger hitting her with it in the process.

The video above doesn’t show the incident as it happened but the first class passengers seem to side with the female passenger and not the male flight attendant that appears to be on a power trip and shouldn’t be on the customer facing business.

The flight was delayed by an hour due to this incident:

AA591 Flight Status

Here’s what Reddit user wrote that was on the same flight (access the thread here):

I was on this flight sitting in the first row behind first class. A few rows behind where this video was shot from. Will try to best provide context to what happened from what I have seen. Proof I was on flight: http://imgur.com/a/GyyGC. It took place in multiple parts of the plane so it is hard to have the complete picture.

The Argentinian lady and her two children were in the mid to back of the plane, she was somehow able to get her stroller on board and back to near her seat. Since I was near the front, I cannot know what happened. If she tried to put the stroller in the overhead bin or what. The flight attendant told her she could not have the stroller on the plane and he needs to take it. She refused to let him take it and was to the near point of shouting. The flight attendant shouted up for security very soon on, escalating the situation more (he should have been working on deescalating)

The flight attendant and the woman started making their way to the front of the plane (I forgot who had the stroller at this point). She had her two kids. She shouted something about being an Argentinian woman and yada yada.

It was this point where things escalated a bit more. The flight attendant and Argentinian woman were at the front of the plane in the crew area / next to the front door of the plane. She was hanging onto the stroller and refusing to let go. The flight attendant was trying to remove it from the plane. Both were at fault here in my opinion. The flight attendant’s tone was overly aggressive. The woman was refusing to let it go and made an aggressive move grabbing the flight attendant (which she should not have done) This angered him and he responded by jerking the stroller harder knocking the Argentinian woman in the head and nearly missing her kids. The flight attendant should not have been so aggressive and should have been aware of the kids.

The video you see above, and I have a similar video (wish i recorded earlier in the situation), is the aftermath. A lot of people were upset in how he treated the woman, knocked her, and her having children around. The first class passenger as you saw went off on him and the flight attendant should have ignored him instead of getting hot headed and continue to escalate it.

In the end, the woman was removed from the plane. The flight attendant remained, served me my ginger ale. I was nice to him but you could tell he was worried for his job and could only respond with basic responses.

The woman well knows to not bring a stroller on a plane, she refused to let it go, she was shouting… so she is also at fault as well in my opinion. But don’t get me wrong, flight attendant should be way more professional than he was.

I’m surprised the first class passenger was not kicked off for his aggressive threatening of a flight attendant, but yes… flight attendant was kinda a dick and did a lot of things wrong. Let me know if you have any questions, will try to answer.

AA591

Here’s the statement from AA that was sent to Jalopnik (access the entire post here):

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.

Conclusion

The passenger was removed from the flight (what else did she do besides crying?) while this male flight attendant that appeared to be on a power trip was allowed to stay. Not sure why the captain didn’t boot him?

Note that I am not saying here that the Argentinian passenger was right. People working in the service industries should know how to handle customers/passengers and diffuse tricky situations.

You have to remember that the current American Airlines is really the old America West that took over US Airways first and then acquired American.

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  • Joseph Merrick

    While we do not know, what exactly happened and I agree with John that the woman seems to have added her bit to the incident by taking the stroller on board and refusing to hand it over to the FA, UA should file AAs statement for future reference on how to publicly handle situations like these.

    • Attention All Passengers

      Why does AA have to make a statement (or retrain?) on how to publicly handle this in the future? What is there to handle ? Tens of thousands of agents board people with their “kitchen sinks” on airplanes every day. They certainly know how to tell people what has to be gate checked when it’s too large or bulky to put in a closet or overhead bin. The problem is not that actual issue of gate checking things, it is stubborn passengers who just don’t want to do it. They want it their way, the entitlement because I bought an airline ticket way.
      With all due respect to your opinion, it isn’t always the airline or airline agents that need retraining. People need to accept that we live among idiots that are dead wrong. I only hope that some of these incidents where passengers are clearly wrong will not make airlines and their staff cave into bad behavior and reward it with more give-aways – it is already bad enough as it is. If airlines had to address every passenger’s objection with a statement, they’d be making statements 24/7, 365 days a year.

  • Ian smith

    This problem could have been avoided if the staff outside the plane had done their job correctly. I have seen a few incidents, with women/men,who have attempted to take their strollers onboard and were refused entry to the aircraft. They are simply told to give it to the staff members, who will make sure it is left just outside the aircraft on their departure. So either AA obviously did not make any checks or the Woman concerned became very agressive and the staff member outside the aircraft was not willing to deal with the problem. The biggest problem on flights today are the overhead bins are very full due to most airlines now charging for baggage stored underneath the plane. In Europe for example I have noticed many problems where people have tried to squeeze their luggage into an overhead bin and been accused of damaging another person’s bag. Once this led to an act of violence . The Steward was wrong for getting aggressive of course, but the guy was badgering him to get some kind of response. In relation to hitting the child, I think not with any intent. The steward is having to work in a tight space and the stroller was probably jammed in the hold with other bags and when he removed it caught the child on the head.

  • karl

    “The flight attendant told her she could not have the stroller on the plane and he needs to take it. She refused to let him take it and was to the near point of shouting.”

    The woman should have been thrown off at this point.

    • Alan Mukando

      Karl wrote “The woman should have been thrown off at this point.” Incredibly bright comment!

      Traveling with 2 little ones could be very stressful, not to mention going thru TSA touching and feeling you all over. You don’t start hitting customers and beat on them.

      • karl

        No-one hit or beat her, – did you read the article?. She ignored the attendant who told her she could not take the stroller in the cabin. As for travelling with 2 little ones etc. etc. – flying is stressful.
        We all have to go through security, and queue, and all of the nonsense that goes with it, but that does not give anybody a pass to decide that they can do as they please.
        The attendant was unprofessional, and he handled the situation poorly, but we’re all human beings. We all have breaking points, and we’re all pushed to the limit sometimes. It’s obvious there was a lot more to this than what was shown in the video. Then our “hero” gets involved, and exacerbates an already unfortunate situation. He should have been thrown off the flight too.

        • Bader Al Omar

          A mother with two toddlers should have been treated with extra empathy & patience. When I say extra, I mean limitless. To her, loosing a stroller could mean being paralysed with the twins. If I were the flight attendant, I’d have gone the extra mile by asking other pax to donate their overhead luggage space for this mum’s stroller.

          • Joseph Merrick

            I agree with “extra patience” but limitless? Upon what grounds? We all have our different burdens to carry, some are obvious, some are not. To have limitless patience towards a certain group of people will be at the expense of others.

            This does not mean that the situation should not have been handled in a more professional way.

          • cscasi

            Good points. After viewing the situation, you are right, it should have been handled in a more professional manner.

          • Sherice

            She did keep sobbing, “I just want my stroller back” so clearly she was the difficult one not willing to leave it in the care of the flight crew, even though this is policy. I guess crying and having babies in your arms automatically deems you the winner.

          • karl

            She can’t use the stroller on the plane, so she should put it in the hold, as she was asked to do. And where would these other PAX put their overhead luggage? On their knees? In first class?
            Perhaps someone should have offered to de-plane so the stroller could have the seat.
            IME these types of mothers already put over-the-top and unreasonable demands on service staff. No need to encourage it further.

          • cscasi

            I really think what should have happened was for the flight attendant to “calmly” explain ot the lady that she could not have her stroller in the overhead bin and that it would have to be “gate checked”, meaning he would take it to the boarding door area, have it tagged and then it would be put in with the baggage in the belly. Upon landing, as the item was gate checked, it would be brought back upstairs and placed outside the aircraft door where she could reclaim it for use with her children.
            One has to realize that sometimes people have not flown before or have not flown with children and a stroller and may not really know all the rules (despite what some commenters tend to believe). That would have taken a minute or so, but might have calmed the lady down and she would have understood that they were not being mean; it’s just the rule.
            I also agree that the gate agent should have told the lady she could not bring it aboard and have gate checked it for her, explaining the procedure and why it had to be gate checked; telling her to take it to the boarding door and leave it there; that it would be returned to her as she deplaned at the destination.
            But, we all know things do not always go the way they should. Still, yelling, shouting, pushing, shoving, etc. (physical contact) should not have to happen and when it does, we see results such as this.

  • BenniHK

    I thought the both sides were so wrong, but at least AA made it right at the end of the day. Anyway the male crew did need to be punished in some way (but not necessarily fire him, as you hnow we all are human beings and lose control sometimes), it could never be right under any situation to hit a woman with kids.

  • Bink

    Kudos for the first class passenger for calling out the flight attendant – but he obviously took it too far. I would like to say he was standing-up for the woman but more of a “hero” passenger posturing. It is amazing that he was allowed to remain on the flight after threatening to knock-out someone on airline staff. Everyone else on the flight was probably saying please don’t let the sobbing mom with 2 toddlers be sitting next to me for the next 3 hours. 🙁

    • jjbula2

      The first class passenger should have also been taken off the flight for his threatening demeanor. That is a warning sign things may escalate later in the flight.

      • BatSheva

        Disagree. The FA was in the wrong and someone needs to stand up to these little Hitlers. I hope he loses his job. He is in the wrong business. He should try getting hired in NY for garbage disposal, where he would fit in nicely. The clients there, the garbage bins, don’t answer back.

  • Schmendrake

    Oh boo boo, “Don’t cry for me Argentina.”

  • jjbula2

    John Ollila – We could have done without your heavy handed spin on this situation. You assume, incorrectly, that the passenger was not at fault. More (some?) balance to your commentary and conclusions please.

  • jjbula2

    John Ollila – Interfering with a crewmemeber (Flight attendant) is a federal crime. Not following instructions is interference. In the end the woman in question should have been led off my law enforcement before the Flight Attendant became frustrated. Just because the majority of people want the right to act badly doesn’t mean it’s going to be tolerated.

  • Bob Dein

    All airlines should have CCTV recording both visual and audio, to safeguard both passengers and crew. The notion of “Zero tolerance” of passenger behaviour fails to protect passengers from over zealous and over officious airline and airport staff who wrongly believe that notion to allow them to behave above the law. There is clearly at least one staff member in the film that needs anti-anger classes. I agree with the comments here that airport and airline staff should be trained to diffuse stressed travellers. Instead many are officious and rude because they know they can whistle for security and the passenger will always be disbelieved.

    • karl

      Equally, passengers who are in the wrong can turn on the waterworks, their phone camera, and sue the airline, despite there being no context to the situation in their footage. It’s a two-way street.

  • Attention All Passengers

    Hitting her with the stroller ??….maybe an accident in very tight quarters, you think ? What is wrong with people??. The passenger was clearly wrong to try to stuff a stroller into an overhead bin and then she plays the hysterical crying woman when all the AA staff wanted to do is gate check it and it would have been returned to her in the jet bridge once landed. What did she think she was going to do, stroll it down the airplane aisle enroute to DFW ?

    Then you have the usual loudmouth buttinsky (other unrelated passenger) that needed to mind his own business and decides to start a yelling stare-down with the gate agent. In defense of the gate agent, the woman was most likely told at the gate reader she could take the stroller down to the end of the jet bridge and it would have been put into the baggage hold – obviously she conveniently misunderstood that and then was argumentative and confrontational at the bottom when the FA saw she was trying to actually bring it on board. I’m sick of people determining what they think is way things should be done without any concern for rules, regulations, and safety. The passenger was wrong. The GA should have ignored the buttinsky and then someone should have explained that the stroller would be delivered to her on the jet bridge when she landed. I also don’t believe she or the children were “hit”. Lying and ignorance should be painful.

  • Attention All Passengers

    “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.”
    ————————-
    AA has just set a precedent for every passenger that “perceives” they have been mishandled. I guess they’ll be giving away a lot of money and F-class tickets. Clearly the passenger overreacted and now she has been rewarded for her bad behavior. Also, given what airline agents go through on a daily basis, I hope the GA or FA will not lose their jobs.

  • Malcolm

    Why is it that these incidents seem to occur on US airlines? Are the FA and GA under more than usual pressure to get the aircraft loaded? Perhaps an on time departure bonus?

    • I believe that something has gone wrong with the training. Sometimes captains call them “inflight safety professionals” etc. rather than flight attendants.

      • Malcolm

        Agreed. Cramming more passengers into coach, limiting carry on baggage etc all make for a tense boarding experience. Eventually tempers flare.

    • Attention All Passengers

      Maybe because foreign carriers are not crippled by politically correct straight jackets ? Maybe because the American mentality has gone from enforcing rules, holding employees accountable and actually teaching correct customer service to just making apologies and giving away the store so that they don’t get any “bad press” ?

  • frischky

    Too much testosterone… and the ladies crying seemed a little put on.