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Witness describes tense incident involving flight attendant and woman with stroller

CBS News logo CBS News 25/04/2017

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A witness says she saw what led up to tense moments that were captured on video Friday aboard an American Airlines flight.  

Passengers say an American Airlines flight attendant hit a mother of twins with a stroller during boarding of the aircraft, which was preparing to leave for Dallas from San Francisco.

Passenger Olivia Morgan said she saw the male flight attendant wrestling the stroller away from the woman, CBS News transportation correspondent Kris Van Cleave reports.

“I said to him something like, ‘What are you doing? You almost hit that baby in the head!’” Morgan said. “And then he was just yelling at me to stay out of it.” “He rips it away from her, and it almost hits her little baby’s head,” Morgan said.

A screenshot from a Facebook video showing the aftermath of a dispute on an American Airlines flight in which an employee allegedly hit a woman with her stroller: aa1.png © Surain Adyanthaya, Facebook aa1.png

Video doesn’t show the mother being hit by the stroller. But as the camera rolled, the woman is crying and distraught. As the woman sobs, another passenger steps in and confronts the crew member.

“Hey, bud? You do that to me and I’ll knock you flat,” says the male passenger.“You stay out of this!” the employee responds, waving his finger at the passenger. “Hit me. Come on, bring it on.” 

“You try that with me, I’ll knock you out,” the passenger says.

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.

Posted by Surain Adyanthaya on Friday, April 21, 2017

It appears, according to American Airlines, that it all started Friday when the mother tried to bring a stroller that was too big onto the flight, Van Cleave reports.

Airline industry analyst Henry Harteveldt says flight crews work under enormous pressure. 

“He snapped when he shouldn’t have,” Harteveldt said. “Airlines are staffing their planes with the minimum number of required flight attendants and that’s not right for the passenger or for the employee either,” he said. 

The airline has suspended the flight attendant and issued an apology. It said in a statement that it was “deeply sorry for the pain we have caused this passenger and her family and to any other customers affected by the incident.” 

The airline said that it saw the video and 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,” the statement, on Friday, said. The passenger and her family chose to take another flight and were upgraded to first class, CBS News’ Carter Evans reported. The mother was also given a $1,000 flight voucher, Van Cleave reported.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants said that “neither the company nor the public should rush to judgment.”

“It appears another passenger may have threatened a Flight Attendant with violence, which is a violation of federal law and no small matter,” the association said in a statement, CBS Dallas-Fort Worth reported. 

The incident followed a violent confrontation earlier this month in which a man was dragged off a United flight. Videos posted on social media captured that incident, which sparked an uproar.

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