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While travelers in the Northeast are stranded from Winter Storm Quinn, American Airlines passengers to the south found themselves delayed over something a little more heated.
According to local officials, the pilot and the operations agent got into a heated disagreement over the positioning of the jet bridge. The pilot stated that the fixture for the jet bridge entrance was in the wrong position, but the local agent averred that the connection was “correctly aligned.”
From there, the situation quickly escalated after some verbal back-and-forth when the operations agent “inadvertently” stepped on the pilot’s foot. The pilot allegedly pushed the agent and grabbed her by the neck, according to eyewitnesses, although the pilot claims that she tried to punch him first.
The flight was immediately canceled, and American offered passengers meal vouchers and hotel stays as staff hurried to re-route them onto other flights leaving São Paulo. According to the Daily Mail, passengers furiously complained to airline agents over both the delay as well as the lack of information.
Brazilian police confiscated the 32-year AA veteran pilot’s passport, and he was charged with “offending the bodily integrity or health of another,” according to the Daily Mail. Although the pilot was released, he is due to appear at a special criminal court in Guarulhos before the end of this week. If convicted, the pilot could face a prison sentence of 3-12 months.
American Airlines released an apology statement after the incident, saying: “Last night, before boarding AA 930 American Airlines flight from São Paulo (GRU) to Miami (MIA), two crew members were engaged in a discussion in the tunnel that connects a platform to the plane. The authorities are now in charge of the case and providing support to staff members. This is a legal investigation and we are cooperating fully with the authorities. Passengers are being accommodated on other flights throughout the day. American Airlines has provided hotel accommodations and meal vouchers. We apologize to our customers for the problem.”
Featured photo courtesy of American Airlines
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