American Airlines has suspended a flight attendant while investigating a scuffle between him, a mom and two babies after a distressing video of their Friday encounter surfaced online.
A passenger taking American flight AA591 from San Francisco to Dallas documented a portion of the awkward confrontation, where a woman holding a toddler stood in front of the cockpit as passengers were still boarding — she is seen hysterically crying and asking flight attendants to return her stroller.
An unnamed male flight attendant yanked away the stroller for her second child, reports CNN. That baby sat in a car seat at her feet while she held the other, wept and asked for the stroller back, according to one witness.
“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,” one passenger told a network affiliate.
“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 added.
WFAA reports that passengers on the plane say the mother was from Argentina and possibly didn’t understand when a flight attendant took her stroller.
A male passenger jumped to the mother’s defense and approached the flight attendant, saying, “Hey, bud, you do that to me and I’ll knock you flat.”
The video shows the flight attendant, aggressively approaching the passenger, saying, “Try it. Hit me. C’mon, hit me. C’mon, bring it on. You don’t know what the story is.”
The passenger who captured the footage and uploaded it to Facebook, Surain Adyanthaya, said the 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.”
American Airlines issued a full statement below:
“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.”
On top of the tears and babies (and the painfully awkward boarding process — check out the woman with the braid boarding around the 1:45 minute mark, who just wants to eat her chips and have a nice flight, and is basically a surrogate for all of us watching this video), a male passenger in first class confronts the flight attendant over the entire situation.
The AA incident comes only weeks after United Airlines took the global spotlight for dragging one of its passengers, Dr. David Dao, off an overbooked flight — leaving him bleeding from the mouth and emotionally scarred before putting him back on the plane.