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Booted fliers blame 'bully' flight attendant

By A. Pawlowski, CNN
updated 11:06 AM EST, Thu December 8, 2011
AirTran's parent company says the crew decided to accommodate the passengers on another flight.
AirTran's parent company says the crew decided to accommodate the passengers on another flight.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Three passengers were asked to leave an AirTran flight
  • Women tell CNN affiliate an angry flight attendant is responsible for the episode
  • Airline says it's reviewing the incident, compensates passengers for "inconvenience"

(CNN) -- Three women kicked off an AirTran plane bound for New York say a "bully" flight attendant is to blame.

The passengers -- who did not know each other before the Monday flight from West Palm Beach, Florida, to White Plains, New York, but were seated in the same section of the plane -- say the incident started during boarding when a male flight attendant began roughly handling bags in the overhead bin.

"I said, 'Hey, I have breakables in that,' " recalled Marilyn Miller, according to CNN affiliate WPTV-TV in West Palm Beach. But she said the comment only seemed to make his behavior worse.

"It was just like a bully and I found myself shaking."

Passenger Carol Gray told the TV station that she flagged the same flight attendant for help with another problem.

"I said, 'Excuse me sir, my seat is broken,' and he looked at me and said, 'I'm not talking to you,' and poked me in the arm," Gray told WPTV.

Booted flier blames 'bully' attendant

The passengers said the flight attendant then began to get angry and told them to leave the plane, according to WPTV. That's when a third woman, who had been watching the situation unfold, told the station she decided to intervene.

"I said, 'This is crazy, they didn't do anything. Why are you doing this to them?' And he said, 'Throw her off, too,' " Karyn Schorr told WPTV.

Palm Beach County sheriff's deputies were called to the scene and stood by as the women exited the plane and went to another gate, said Eric Davis, a spokesman for the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office. The women were not cited or charged with any crimes, WPTV reported.

Southwest Airlines, which owns AirTran, said it booked new travel arrangements for the passengers and compensated them as "a gesture of goodwill for their inconvenience."

"Our goal is always to mitigate any uncomfortable situation prior to departure. Our crew assessed the environment onboard and ultimately decided to accommodate the passengers on an alternative flight," spokeswoman Brandy King said.

"We always prefer that a passenger walk away with a positive experience when flying our airline; we regret that didn't happen in this scenario. As we often do in these situations, we will take this opportunity to review the reports and take away any key learnings that we might uncover."

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