'Craziness' reigns aboard flight waiting to take off from LaGuardia Airport

Story highlights

  • "There is no way this guy's behavior was acceptable," a passenger says
  • The ordeal was captured on a passenger's mobile phone video camera
  • "If you have balls, this is your time," the flight attendant says
The situation aboard an American Eagle jet waiting to take off from New York's LaGuardia Airport turned into "absolute craziness" when a frustrated flight attendant started yelling over the intercom, a passenger said Friday.
"There is no way this guy's behavior was acceptable," said passenger David Abels, who was with his daughter, 9, on Wednesday's flight.
The flight sat for hours on the tarmac awaiting departure for Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina before it was refueled and eventually canceled.
The ordeal, captured on a passenger's cell phone video during the hours-long delay, was caused by thunderstorms, according to American Airlines spokeswoman Andrea Huguely.
In the video, the flight attendant can be heard daring disgruntled passengers to deplane.
"If you have balls, this is your time. Otherwise, you're going to have to fly with [me]," the flight attendant says in the video.
The recording shows the flight attendant demanding silence from the visibly upset passengers, saying, "I don't want to hear anything. We will not hear anything once we close the door."
Two Port Authority police officers were called onto the plane but no charges were filed, said Al Della Fave, press officer for the Port Authority Police Department.
Officers said airline crew members complained that passengers were being disruptive, and the passengers complained of a crew member who acted irrationally, Fave said.
An airline official apologized for the outburst.
"We do not believe that the passengers' frustrations were met with the level of service that we expect from our people, and for that we are truly sorry," Huguely said in a statement.
"For any passenger who was on that plane to say it was the passengers' fault ... it was the flight attendant," Abels said. "They're supposed to reassure everybody and calm everybody."
Jon Wurster, a musician from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, who was seated in the first-class section, said he did not see the confrontation between passengers and the flight attendant, but did hear his controversial announcement over the loudspeaker.
The announcement came after the plane boarded late, waited on the runway and was then sent back to the gate to refuel, Wurster said.
"It just seemed to be this endless perfect storm of everything that could go wrong, and unfortunately the brunt of peoples' ire landed on only a couple of people, which was ... the flight attendant in question and two other American Airlines employees," Wurster said.
He added that the flight attendant appeared to be "on the verge of tears" and told the passengers that he expected the flight would be his last.
"He said, 'I don't care anymore, this probably is my last flight,'" Wurster recalled. "I took it as, this sounds like the JetBlue attendant that slid down the side of the plane."
In August 2010, JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater made headlines after his abrupt resignation, which involved a plane's emergency chute, cans of beer and a tirade of expletives.
He was immediately suspended by JetBlue and resigned the following month.