Fight or Flight? Spat Between American Airlines Flight Attendants Delays Plane Four Hours

At a time when it looks like AA is hitting financial turbulence, letting minor tiffs cause major delays just isn't going to fly

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Frank Polich / Reuters

As travelers, flight delays are something we simply must accept. But those minutes — or hours — of waiting are usually the result of inclement weather, mechanical problems, security scares or even airline glitches. But passengers heading from New York to D.C. earlier this week faced a four-hour delay not for the usual (and, generally, understandable) reasons. Instead, they found themselves waiting because of a tiff between two flight attendants.

American Airlines Flight 3823, set to leave New York’s JFK Airport at 3:10 p.m. on Sept. 19, had begun moving along the tarmac, passengers toldĀ NBC News, when the fight began. Apparently one flight attendant had been using her cell phone during the crew’s pre-departure routine, prompting her co-worker to request that everyone, “including the other flight attendant,” needed to turn off all electronic devices.

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The comment didn’t go over well, and soon, the cockpit crew caught wind of the altercation between the two women. The travelers were then told they’d be returning to the gate “because the flight attendants couldn’t work with each other,” one passenger told NBC News.

Back at the airport, the passengers had to wait nearly four hours while American Airlines tried finding another flight attendant crew. The original flight had a scheduled gate-to-gate time of one hour and 20 minutes. Travelers described the situation as “ridiculous” and said it was “totally unbelievable that there was such little professionalism.” And at a time when it looks like American Airlines is hitting financial turbulence, letting minor tiffs cause major delays just isn’t going to fly.

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