The truth has a way of surfacing, one way or another.
Another passenger allegedly on the “strollergate” flight has stepped forward to offer a differing narrative of what happened. Most of the blame is placed on the mother, with the insinuation she was overdramatic and gold digging.
Shared by former FA Gailen Lee David, passenger “Eric” had a different recollection of the flight. I’m not going to edit this for spelling and grammar errors, but am going to try to make it more readable.
I was on this flight directly across the isle from the woman filming the video. This is what I observed:
1.) woman gets on the plane pushing a car seat type stroller with one child in it, carrying a second child on her hip and dragging behind a very large folded stroller that was too big for the overhead bin or to go under a seat.
2.) the flight attendant shown in the video approached from the back of the plane and informed her in a calm manner that there was nowhere to store the stroller. The woman immediately escalated the situation and within about 30 seconds was screaming at him at the top of her lungs.
3.) the flight attendant evidently decided she was not fit to be on the flight (in my opinion the correct decision) and started to move her and her children towards the front of the plane.
4.) when they got to the from of the plane the woman decided she was not going any further. The flight attendant picked up the stroller and lifted it over his head to try and move past the woman. As he was doing this she pushed him and the stroller fell a bit and struck her in the face. She began crying loudly and dramatically. Shortly after this is where the video begins.
5.) The first class passenger then inserts himself into the drama with his faux chivalry but clearly has no idea what has transpired in the back of the plane since he was in a window seat in the first class section of the plane and could not have viewed the incident from his seat.
6.) after another 10 minutes or so the woman exits the plane only to be returned about 5 minutes later and taken to her seat. We wait another 30-40 minutes while various flight and ground crew come and go speaking to the woman. After about 40 minutes she deplanes again this time telling all of the passengers, who are now becoming vocal in support of the flight crew, that all she wanted was an apology from the flight attendant. Evidently that’s what the 40 minute delay was all about. Then we waited another 10 minutes for the ground crew to find and remove her luggage from the belly of the plane.
7.) the flight finally leaves and arrives in Dallas an hour or so late. American representatives are waiting at the gate to speak with the first class passenger who made the threats. What I heard was a very apologetic tone coming from two American employees, as if the airline had done something to upset the first class passenger.
8.) when I entered the bag claim area the first class passenger was right in front of me and as soon as he made it through the revolving door there was a camera crew waiting for him on the other side to interview him.
That’s about as factual of an account as I can provide and I realize there may be other parts of this story that I do not know about or did not witness.
From what I saw:
a.) if anyone from American should have been punished it should be the ground crew who somehow letting this woman on board with a full size stroller. The flight attendant was put in a horrible situation by a passenger that most passengers in my immediate area thought seemed unstable. She escalated the situation, not him.
b.) in my opinion, the first class passenger should have been removed. Had the flight been in progress he might very well have been arrested upon landing for threatening a crew member. Additionally, he could not have seen any of the back of the plane antics of the woman based on where he was seated.
c.) I agree the flight attendant may have reacted too harshly in responding to the threatening customer in first class, but his actions with the woman in question were professional throughout the ordeal. I am disappointed American has chosen to punish him.
But this account conflicts from three other passengers who went on the record.
1. Olivia Morgan in NY Times
“He jerked it away from her and almost hit the baby in the head,” Olivia Morgan, the passenger who saw the episode unfold, said in a telephone interview. Ms. Morgan, an executive with an education-related nonprofit, said that after she complained about the woman’s treatment, the attendant shouted at her. “He yells at me with his finger in my face, ‘You stay out of it!’” she said. “Full rage.”
2. Surain Adyanthaya on Facebook (who filmed the incident)
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.
3. Tom Watson on Fox
Tom Watson, who provided Tribune Media proof he was on the flight, said he was sitting in the first row behind first class. “The lady and her two children were seated near the back of the plane. She was somehow able to get her stroller on board and back near her seat,” he said. Watson said he’s not sure if the woman tried to put the stroller in the overhead bin. A short time later, a flight attendant approached the woman and told her she cannot have the stroller on the plane.“She refused to let him take it and she was almost to the point of shouting,” he said. The flight attendant then asked for security personnel, which “escalated” the situation, according to Watson. “The flight attendant and the woman started making their way to the front of the plane. They were at the front of the plane near the crew area. The woman was holding on to the stroller and refusing to let go,” he said. Watson said the flight attendant’s tone was “aggressive” and the woman was refusing to let go of the stroller, which escalated the situation. The flight attendant then responded by jerking the stroller from the woman, knocking her in the head and nearly hitting the children, according to Watson. “The flight attendant should not have been so aggressive and should have been more aware of the kids,” he said.
Thoughts on Eric’s Account
Eric makes almost as many spelling and grammar errors as me and Gary Leff combined. The fact that there is no last name and especially that it conflicts so much with the accounts of other passengers makes me deeply skeptical of the account.
But let’s assume he is correct for a moment. It still doesn’t exonerate the AA FA! First, it “proves” she was allowed to board the plane with her stroller. Two, it shows that she was told there wasn’t room for the stroller, not that it wasn’t permitted. Three, it proves the FA became aggressive.
Maybe this woman did just set a trap for the FA. Maybe. But the FA knowingly walked into it. It is the duty of a FA to de-escalate instead of escalate conflict.
I can’t find the primary source for “Eric” and I just spent 30 minutes looking. Perhaps one of you has it, but all I see is hundreds of people on Facebook quoting Gailen David’s quote of “Eric”. I’m going to go out on a limb and call this fake news. Just a hunch. We’ll see.