(NEW YORK) — One passenger has defended the flight attendant who lashed out at complaining passengers on a long-delayed flight from New York’s LaGuardia Airport, although other passengers say they feared his behavior and worried about flying with him.
Hanna and David Abel were on board American Eagle flight 4607, bound for Raleigh-Durham, N.C., on Monday when flight attendant Jose Serrano told passengers they could leave the plane if “anyone has the balls” to do it, according to cellphone video obtained by the New York Post.
“I don’t want to hear anything,” Serrano told passengers over the plane’s PA system. Witnesses say Serrano said something about this probably being his last flight.
“The scariest part was that if we did go back in the air with him, what if he just opened the door and let a few passengers out, you know?” said passenger Hanna Abel.
The flight was eventually canceled because the delays were too long and the crew ran out of time to fly legally.
American Airlines issued an email from a first-class passenger defending the flight attendant and blaming the incident on “the most horrible display of passenger aggressiveness” toward Serrano.
The airline also issued an apology, saying, “We do not believe that the passengers’ frustrations were always met with the level of service that we expect from our people, and for that we are truly sorry.”
The flight was originally scheduled to leave at 1:25 p.m., but passengers were prevented from boarding until nearly 4 p.m. because of rain delays. The plane was then delayed an additional 40 minutes behind other traffic, and passengers were told the aircraft would return to the gate to be refueled. Passengers deplaned and reboarded at 6 p.m. but were held again on the tarmac.
That’s when passengers began to grumble and Serrano apparently lost him composure. Police were called onto the plane and removed four passengers along with Serrano.
Passengers said they were worried Serrano might do something rash and compared his behavior to that of a Jet Blue attendant two years ago.
The JetBlue flight attendant, Steven Slater, cursed at passengers in 2010 before exiting the plane down the emergency slide. Earlier this year, JetBlue pilot Clayton Osbon suffered a mid-air meltdown and had to be restrained by passengers.
Passengers on flight 4607 eventually went to hotels for the night and were able to catch a flight the next day.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul R. La Monica, CNN
Debra Goldschmidt, CNN
Susan Scutti, CNN
Mariel Turner, Kacey Montoya & Nerissa Knight, KTLA