American Airlines said it suspended an employee on Friday after video surfaced on social media of an altercation involving an unidentified flight attendant.
The video was uploaded on Friday afternoon by Facebook user Surain Adyanthaya and shows a male flight attendant taunting a passenger while people boarded Flight #591 from San Francisco to Dallas.
“Hit me,” the flight attendant urges an unidentified male passenger. “Come on, hit me.”
The altercation allegedly occurred moments after the same flight attendant acted aggressively toward a female passenger and her small child, according to witnesses.
“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,” passenger Olivia Morgan told KTLA-TV in Los Angeles.
“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.”
According to Mr. Adyanthaya’s Facebook post, the flight attendant “violently took a stroller from a lady with her baby on my flight, hitting her and just missing the baby.”
While the footage doesn’t depict the alleged episode as described on Facebook, Mr. Adyanthaya managed to capture more than two minutes of video leading up to and including the flight attendant’s taunts.
As the video begins, a tearful female passenger is seen from several rows back cradling a child near the front of the airplane in the presence of crew members and fellow passengers.
“You can’t use violence with baby,” she says. “Just give me back my stroller, please.”
Moments later a male passenger emerges from his seat and begins demanding to know the name of a flight attendant for unspecified reasons. Although the flight attendant is offscreen for most of the video, he enters the shot toward the end of the clip and instantly provokes a heated response from the male passenger.
“Hey, bud,” the passenger says. “You do that to me and I’ll knock you flat.”
“Hey, you stay out of this!” the flight attendant yells back.
“Hit me,” the flight attendant then insists. “Come on, hit me.”
“You don’t know what the story is!” the flight attendant tells the passenger.
“I don’t care what the story is,” the male passenger replies. “You almost hurt a baby.”
The video amassed over 2.4 million views on Facebook alone in under a day and prompted a response from American within hours.
“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,” the statement begins.
“In short, we are disappointed by these actions. The American team member has been removed from duty while we immediately investigate this incident,” the airline said.
The female passenger and her family were placed on a separate flight and upgraded to first class for the remainder of the trip, American added.
Friday’s incident unfolded less than two weeks after United Airlines ignited a firestorm by having a 69-year-old doctor forcefully removed from an overbooked flight. The incident was similarly shared on social media in the immediate aftermath and briefly ravaged the value of United’s stock.