Video Shows American Airlines Employee Challenging Passenger to Fight Onboard Plane

Two weeks after the forcible removal of Dr. David Dao from a United Airlines flight sparked waves of outrage across the world, video showing another controversial exchange between flight staff and passengers onboard an American Airlines flight from San Francisco to Dallas is having a similar effect.

The situation occurred when a flight attendant removed a mother’s baby carriage during the boarding process, allegedly hitting her in the head with it. The crew member also came very close to hitting one of her two children with the carriage while removing it from the cabin. The aftermath of the incident was captured in a video posted to Facebook, in which another passenger approaches the flight attendant and engages in a heated verbal altercation.

The video’s caption, posted by Surain Adyanthaya, reads: “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.”

Initially, the woman is seen crying hysterically and asking for her baby carriage back while flight staff attempts to calm her down. Later in the video, the man approaches the alleged perpetrator and the two exchange threats of physical violence. The flight attendant seems to encourage the passenger to hit him, saying “try to hit me, you don’t know what the story is.”

American Airlines has suspended the staff member and also issued an apology, writing in a statement:

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.

According to the airline's website, small strollers can be checked at the gate prior to boarding, although there is no written policy about strollers in overhead bins. 

While the video on Facebook, which has been viewed over 1 million times since its initial posting on Friday, doesn’t show the removal of the baby carriage and the alleged physical harm caused to the woman, local media got more details from passengers onboard.

“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,” Olivia Morgan told Q13 Fox.

“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.

According to a report in Jalopnik, the flight from San Francisco’s SFO to Dallas/Ft. Worth was delayed one hour from departure.

The incident follows the onslaught of negative press that’s dogged United Airlines since it forcibly removed David Dao, 69, from Flight 3411 on April 10, breaking the man's nose and giving him a concussion that caused him to lose teeth. Since that incident, United’s stock value plummeted as it became the subject of boycott initiatives. The company’s reaction to the controversy, which became a major flashpoint in the news cycle, didn’t endear it to the public as CEO Oscar Munoz botched United's initial apology.

[h/t The Guardian via Jalopnik and Fox Q13]

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Sam Blum is a News Staff Writer for Thrillist. He's also a martial arts and music nerd who appreciates a fine sandwich and cute dogs. Find his clips in The Guardian, Rolling Stone, The A.V. Club and Vice. He's on Twitter @Blumnessmonster.