There’s a new twist in the case of an American Airlines flight attendant who was brutally assaulted on a trip from New York to Orange Country, California. The passenger claims he had just had brain surgery and it was the flight attendant who instigated the brawl. As more facts unfold, it is important we consider the passenger’s side as well.
New Twist: Was American Airlines Passenger Recovering From Brain Surgery Simply Acting In Self-Defense?
American Airlines CEO Doug Parker called the incident “one of the worst displays we’ve ever seen” when a “passenger violently assaulted one our flight attendants.” He called for prosecution. And indeed, that’s a reasonable reaction (mine too) for a passenger who brazenly attacks a flight attendant.
But the passenger is telling a different story. He says:
- He was traveling home from Rhode Island after having brain surgery, which became necessary after he was brutally assaulted in New York
- When standing in the aisle, he “accidentally bumped” a flight attendant
- The flight attendant “became agitated” and began swinging at him
- Fearing his recently re-constrcuted head would be hit, he raised his hand in defense
- The flight attendant hit her nose on his palm
However his mother, who was traveling with him, conceded that the brain injury has caused him to become more easily agitated (and experience dizziness).
This is a very different story than that of the flight attendant and coming forth from American Airlines, which said:
- The passenger got up to use the lavatory, but all were occupied
- The seatbelt light was also on and he was told to sit down
- He responded by becoming agitated and attacking the flight attendant
Other passengers also claimed the man appeared intoxicated and one linked the issue to masks.
The tricky part of this story is that both stories are plausible. Neither one excuses the physical attack, but it certainly matters who “started” the fight and who threw the first punch.
I just find it very heard to believe that a flight attendant would start the fight…that is what de-escalation training is specifically intended to avoid. If a flight attendant actually started this, it makes the situation oh so much worse…and not in a way that reflects well upon American Airlines.
> Read More: Passenger Punches Flight Attendant On American Airlines Flight, Forcing Diversion
> Read More: Lip Service From American Airlines CEO Won’t Protect Flight Attendants From Bad Behavior Onboard
We will continue to monitor this story and update it accordingly…hopefully witnesses onboard will step forward to offer further insight. In the meantime, I don’t think it is reasonable to fully withhold judgment, but an interesting counterpoint has now been presented.