American Airlines Reacts Swiftly To Baby Stroller Incident
Video Of Mother Crying Wildly While Clutching One Of Her Infants While Passengers And Airline Attendant Argue Goes Viral
by Heather Cassell
American Airlines launched an investigation and suspended the flight attendant accused of nearly hitting an infant with a stroller sending its mother into hysterical crying Friday, April 21.
Part of the incident was caught on video and posted to Facebook by Surain Adyanthaya 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,” she captioned the clip.
“Then he tried to fight a passenger who stood up for her,” she added.
The video took off capturing more than 6 million views.
The incident held up the plane at San Francisco International Airport for more than an hour beyond its originally scheduled 1 p.m. departure time, reports the New York Times.
The airline immediately went into damage control issuing a statement about 20 minutes after the flight landed at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport about 7:45 p.m., according to media reports.
Friday’s statement from American Airlines says it took care of the woman and her family and the flight attendant was suspended while an investigation was launched into the situation.
“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,” the statement says announcing that the employee was “removed from duty” while an investigation is conducted.
The unidentified Argentinian woman and her 15-month old twins were boarding a flight out of San Francisco to Dallas when an unidentified male flight attendant attempted to assist the her with the strollers. One of the strollers allegedly nearly struck one of her children.
The mother was crying hysterically pleading with the flight attendant, “You can’t use violence with baby. Just give me back my stroller, please,” she can be heard saying in the video.
The situation, which happened near the cockpit in the video, quickly escalated capturing the attention of everyone on board, including Tony Fierro of Dallas, who was sitting in first class and is seen on the video getting into a verbal brawl with the flight attendant.
The attendant, as seen on the video, lost his cool and threatened the passengers who argued with him.
In the video, Tony is seen getting out of his seat yelling at the flight attendant, “Hey, bud, you do that to me and I’ll knock you flat.”
The flight attendant warns Tony to stay out of it, but suddenly they are in each other’s faces.
“Hit me! Come on, bring it on,” the flight attendant says.
For a moment, it appears that the two men’s exchange is over while another passenger, an unidentified woman who was boarding the plane behind the crying mother, is also seen on the video arguing with the flight attendant.
Suddenly, the men go at it again.
“You don’t even know what the story is,” the flight attendant tells Tony.
“I don’t care what the story is,” Tony says, “You almost hurt a baby!”
Olivia Morgan, who saw the incident unfold before her tells the Times, that she saw the flight attendant jerk the stroller away from the mother.
“He jerked it away from her and almost hit the baby in the head,” says Olivia, an executive with an education-related nonprofit.
When she complained about how the flight attendant was treating the mother she suddenly became the target of his rage, she says.
“He yells at me with his finger in my face, ‘You stay out of it!’” she tells the Times. “Full rage.”
Passengers observing the scene told various media outlets that the woman was attempting to board the plane with two strollers with her two young children. writes Bridget Vee on Facebook, while the other child was balanced on the woman’s hip.
Bridget, who was allegedly sitting next to Surain while she was recording the incident, writes on Facebook that one child was in a “car seat type stroller” and the mother was dragging the other stroller, a “very large folded stroller that was too big for the overhead bin or to go under the seat,” behind her.
Strollers are not permitted in airplane cabins, an airline spokeswoman tells the Times.
Passengers are allowed one stroller or one car seat, but it must be small – up to only 20 pounds or nine kilograms – and collapsible, and one must be checked at the ticket counter and the other at the gate before boarding a plane. All other strollers and car seats above that weight minimum must be checked at the ticket counter at no additional charge, according to American Airline’s website.
Coming to the flight attendant’s defense Bridget addressed what happened before the record button was pushed on Surain’s phone and outlined what went wrong on the flight.
According to Bridget, the flight attendant calmly approached the mother and her two children from the back of the plane and informed her that there was nowhere to store the strollers on the plane.
The mother allegedly went into hysterics “screaming at him at the top of her lungs” within 30 seconds of being approached. It was at that point the flight attendant attempted to remove the mother and her children from the plane, which Bridget agrees the flight attendant was making the right decision. The woman and her children followed, but then stopped at the front of the plane.
It was then that the flight attendant lifted the stroller above his head to apparently maneuver past the woman and her children.
“As he was doing this she pushed him and the stroller fell a bit and struck her in the face,” writes Bridget, “She began to cry loudly and dramatically.”
It was after that moment the video begins, she notes in her post on Facebook.
After the video is shut off, Bridget writes that “after another 10 minutes or so the woman exits the plane only to return about five minutes later and taken to her seat. We wait for about another 30 or 40 minutes while various flight and ground crew come and go speaking to the woman. After about 40 minutes she deplanes.”
Bob Ross, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents American Airlines crew members, says that there are “two stories” related to the incident.
“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,” he says in an email statement to SFGate.com.
“Second, it appears another passenger may have threatened a flight attendant with violence, which is a violation of federal law and no small matter,” he continues.
Verbal or physical violence against a flight crewmember aboard an airplane violates federal law and can result in a felony conviction up to 10 years and substantial fines, according to the Federal Aviation Administration Code 49 U.S. Code § 46504.
“Air rage has become a serious issue on our flights,” he adds.
American Airlines representatives express their apologies to the woman and the passengers aboard the flight and attempted to appease the woman and her family by upgrading them to first class, giving them a $1,000 voucher, and a full refund for their flight, reports ABC World News.
“We are deeply sorry for the pain we have caused this passenger and her family and to any other customers affected by the incident,” the statement says. “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.”
“We are making sure all of her family’s needs are being met while she is in our care.”
The rules and American Airline’s attempts to correct the situation don’t matter to Surain and Tony who were offended by what they saw.
“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,” Tony tells WFAA-TV about the incident.
Surain agrees adding that the flight attendant, “He lost his cool. He totally lost his cool. It’s unfortunate, but that’s exactly what happened.”
As far as Surain is concerned, the mother didn’t voluntarily deboard the plane, posting again on Facebook that the mother was involuntarily escorted off the plane, reports the Mercury News.
The woman and her family are back home in Argentina. She’s reportedly hired the same attorney representing Dr. David Dao, who was the passenger who was brutally removed from a recent United Airlines flight, reports ABC World News.
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