March 9, 2012 at 1:38 PM ET
An American Airlines flight attendant reportedly was subdued by passengers this morning after publicly ranting over the PA system that there was a mechanical problem aboard the plane and that it was going to crash.
The incident occurred as Flight 2332, which was scheduled to depart at 8:25 a.m. CST, was preparing to take off from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport bound for Chicago O'Hare.
Bethany Christakos of Dallas, seated toward the rear of the plane, said passengers started "freaking out" as one of the female flight attendants gave a rambling, 15-minute speech on the plane's public-address system.
"She said, 'I'm not responsible for this plane crashing,'" Christakos told the Associated Press.
Several passengers who claimed to be aboard the flight posted updates to Twitter.
“American airlines flight attendent talking about how the flight is going to crash, making 4 kids sitting around me start crying...,” wrote Sean Gabbert (@stp33), who also tweeted a photo.
"We had a crazy flight attendant who was telling us we would crash and die and got into a fight ad (sic) had to be held down by 5 guys,” Skyler Finley (@FinleySkyler) wrote.
Airport spokesman David Magaña said that public safety officers responded to the incident: “Two females were transported to hospitals, one to Parkland (Dallas) and one to Baylor Grapevine. No state criminal charges are being considered at this time.”
Passenger Hannah Abney told NBC News that the flight attendant ranted about the airline's bankruptcy. She described the passengers as calm yet concerned, but she chose to exit the aircraft with her toddler rather than continue on to Chicago.
American Airlines issued a statement confirming the incident and said that the aircraft returned to the gate and was met by police officers. “Two flight attendants were taken to local hospitals for treatment,” said spokesman Ed Martelle. “We continue to investigate the details and circumstances and will have no further comment at this time.”
American Airlines and parent AMR Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection Nov. 29 and are seeking to cut $2 billion in annual costs, including $1.25 billion from labor through moves such as slashing 13,000 jobs. Labor unions at American Airlines are seeking binding arbitration to settle negotiations over the company's cost-cutting plans.
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents American Airlines flight attendants, issued this statement following this morning's incident.
"There was an unfortunate but non-violent confrontation involving a flight attendant aboard an aircraft preparing for takeoff this morning at DFW. Passenger accounts have been reported in the media but details remain sketchy. The incident is being investigated by the proper authorities with the full cooperation of APFA. APFA representatives have been in contact with the crew, the company, and the authorities and are providing assistance as needed."
Heather Poole, a flight attendant and author of the newly released "Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet," told msnbc.com that "flying can be stressful."
"And much like any other job, there are stresses that might cause a person to break...This type of thing is not unique to flight attendants," she said. "It happens to [others] but when it does they're usually surrounded by family and coworkers who have a better understanding of what might be going on."
Friday’s incident shares some similarities with former JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater’s infamous meltdown in 2010, in which he deployed an emergency chute on a grounded plane after an altercation with a passenger.
Martelle said American Airlines "will ensure that the affected flight attendants receive proper care, and we commend our other crew members for their assistance in quickly getting the aircraft back to the gate so that customers could be re-accommodated. Our customers were not in danger at any time."
The cabin crew was replaced and the flight departed for Chicago at 9:46 a.m. The flight arrived at Chicago around noon CST.
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