A man who stood up to a flight attendant who purportedly hit a mother of-two in the face with a baby's buggy while “violently” taking it from her has spoken publicly about the incident for the first time.
Insurance executive Tony Fierro was dubbed a “hero” after footage of him confronting the flight attendant was widely circulated online.
“A baby almost got hurt,” Mr Fierro told Texan TV channel WFAA-TV. “That's what just fired me up, so that was it. I don't want to make a big deal about it.”
The 46-year old Dallas resident is reportedly a deacon and founder of a community church, while also working as president of an insurance company.
The incident has attracted attention in the wake of the forcible removal of a doctor from a United Airlines flight earlier this month.
American Airlines has apologised and suspended the flight attendant involved.
Surain Adyanthaya, a passenger on the plane, uploaded the footage to Facebook, writing “AA Flight attendant violently took a stroller from a lady with her baby on my flight, hitting her and just missing the baby.
“Then he tried to fight a passenger who stood up for her.”
In the footage, the mother is seen standing in the crew area holding a baby, crying and asking for her stroller back.
Mr Fierro then stands up and demands the name of the employee involved in the stroller incident. He returns to his seat, then returns when the staff member re-appears through the cabin door. He then shouts: “Hey bud — you do that to me and I’ll knock you flat.”
As the captain looks on from the flight-deck door, the employee says: “Try it. Hit me.”
The captain orders the passenger to sit down, and then follows the staff member out of the cabin door.
American Airlines responded to the footage saying: “The actions of our team member captured here do not appear to reflect patience or empathy, two values necessary for customer care. In short, we are disappointed by these actions.”
The airline said the employee has been “removed from duty” pending an investigation.
American Airlines is keen to avoid creating a public relations catastrophe like that experienced by United Airlines, which initially blamed its passenger, Dr David Dao, for a violent scuffle, before finally apologising.
The statement from American Airlines said: “We have seen the video and have already started an investigation to obtain the facts. What we see on this video does not reflect our values or how we care for our customers. We are deeply sorry for the pain we have caused this passenger and her family and to any other customers affected by the incident.”
It said the woman who was filmed crying during the confrontation had been placed on a different flight where she would be upgraded to first class.
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