Flight Attendants' Fight Delays Plane, Adds to American's Ongoing Woes

American Airlines has acknowledged there was a “disagreement” between two flight attendants on an American Eagle flight out of JFK yesterday. As a result, the plane returned to the gate to switch out crews and the 3:10 p.m. departure time was delayed until 7:46 p.m..

Huge Spike in Delayed, Canceled Flights

Fight Causes Near-Five Hour Delay

The nearly five-hour long delay was just the latest in a series of delays and cancelations that have plagued American Airlines in the past several days, after the airline imposed new cost-cutting terms on its pilots. The airline admits that one of the factors in the recent poor performance has been an increase in pilots calling in sick and flight crews filing more maintenance reports. Back in February, American announced it would likely cut as many as 13,000 jobs including nearly 3,000 crew members.

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Unhappy Crews, Angry Passengers

So far, American has reported hundreds of delayed and canceled flights in recent days, leading air travel expert Rick Seaney to point out that passengers are the ones getting squeezed in the middle. As for the passengers aboard Wednesday’s American Eagle flight, they were unhappy and some were angry.

Report: Flight Attendant Fight over Cell Phone

According the one media report, the incident on Wednesday’s flight from New York to Washington was sparked by cell phone use. One female flight attendant was upset that another was on her phone during the pre-check announcements so she told her – over the cabin’s system – to turn it off. An argument ensued and the plane returned to the gate. One passenger was quoted as saying, “It was incredible, totally unbelievable that there was such little professionalism between these women.”

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American Airlines earlier told FareCompare that in the wake of the recent delays and cancelations, it would be slightly reducing its September and October flight schedule. FareCompare has contacted American for comment on this latest incident and will update with any response. UPDATE: An American Airlines spokeswoman told FareCompare, “There was a disagreement between two flight attendants Wednesday afternoon prior to the departure of American Eagle flight 3823 from New York JFK to Washington Reagan. The aircraft returned to the gate to switch flight attendant crews, and the flight departed a short while later. We’re looking into the matter.”

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Published: September 20, 2012