Passengers made Charlotte-bound flight ‘a living hell,’ flight attendant scolds in video

·4 min read

An American Airlines flight attendant scolded passengers who verbally abused them on a flight from Los Angeles to Charlotte that diverted in bad weather to Raleigh, a TikTok video shows.

A North Carolina musician outraged by his fellow passengers’ behavior posted the video in hopes others will be outraged, too.

At one point, a 22-year-old male passenger calls a female flight attendant “a fat gorilla” and hurls a vulgarity at her, according to the video.

“There was absolutely no excuse for it,” Brent Underwood of the band 87&Pine told The Charlotte Observer on Thursday. “It doesn’t matter what you look like. Everybody deserves respect. And everybody deserves to be punished equally for being a rude person like that. Why would you call a person a fat gorilla?”

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The plane sat at the Raleigh-Durham airport for three hours.

The plane flight earlier circled Charlotte’s airport for a half-hour before diverting to Raleigh because the plane was low on fuel, Underwood said. The incident was first reported by the fact-checking site Snopes.com.

After the female flight attendant told the 22-year-old male passenger to put a mask on, as required on planes by federal COVID mandates, the passenger hurled the insults at her, Underwood’s video shows.

The video has drawn a half-million views.

American Airlines confirmed to The Charlotte Observer that mask compliance sparked the incident.

When the male attendant announced the flight would return to Raleigh if passenger behavior didn’t improve, a woman passenger sarcastically complained that the attendants were threatening to do that because they hadn’t eaten, according to Underwood’s video.

“Give them a Snickers!” other passengers shouted.

Flight 2511 left Los Angeles at 9:12 a.m. Pacific time on Monday, according to Underwood’s boarding pass, a photo of which he provided to the Observer on Thursday.

While sitting in Raleigh, the plane had only water and cookies left, Underwood said.

After the passengers finished mouthing off, the 22-year-old flier apparently realized they’d gone too far and could be heard telling the male attendant, “I said we’re sorry.”

The attendant had just taken to a microphone and was about to address the plane. The flight had two male and three female flight attendants, Underwood said, but only the one male and one female attendant were involved in the confrontation, he said. The pilot didn’t get involved, he said.

“Just like you, we have not eaten also,” the male flight attendant tells passengers over the plane’s speaker system, according to the video. “We’ve catered to you the entire flight. We do it because we love this job.

“But the fact that we get insulted and mistreated by passengers over things we cannot control is disgusting,” he says.

“We’re just trying to go to Charlotte,” the attendant said. “But shame on the passengers that have made this flight a living hell for the flight attendants.”

Passengers applaud the attendant.

On TikTok, Underwood, a 39-year-old musician who works for the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles, defended the flight attendants and addressed the bad behavior of fellow passengers. He lives in the town of Tar Heel, about 22 miles south of Fayetteville.

“Flight attendants on @officialamericanairways are done with your b.s.!” Underwood posted with the video and the TikTok hashtags #AmericanAirlines, #facemask and #dumbcustomers.

“The flight crew did absolutely nothing wrong,” he told the Observer. “They were more professional than I would have been.”

In a statement to the Observer on Thursday, American Airlines said: “We take the health and safety of our customers seriously, and our crew members work hard to uphold the federal mask mandate that remains in effect on aircraft and in airports.

“We value the trust our customers place in our team to care for them throughout their journey, and we expect those who choose to fly with us to treat each other — and our team members — with respect.”

A spokeswoman for the Raleigh Durham Airport Authority said no passenger was removed from the plane and arrested because of the incident.

The flight arrived at CLT at 9:41 p.m. Monday, more than nine hours after leaving LA, according to FlightAware.com, which tracks flights at the nation’s airports.