Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
Once a disturbing airline video achieves viral status, finger-pointing isn't far behind.
On Friday night, a video was posted to Facebook (see below). It shows an American Airlines flight attendant challenging a male passenger to a fight, after allegedly grappling with a female passenger who was trying to store a stroller. He is alleged to have hit her with it and narrowly missed her child.
The male passenger was objecting to the flight attendant's treatment of the woman.
The airline swiftly (and smartly) apologized, upgraded the woman for the rest of her journey, and suspended the flight attendant, pending an investigation.
You might imagine, therefore, that when Bob Ross, President of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants -- which represents American flight attendants -- speaks, he would at least offer a few conciliatory words.
You might also imagine that socks fit best on ears.
Instead, as reported by WFAA-TV, Ross begins his statement with a lecture.
"The goal of our 26,000 members is to make every flight safe and secure for our passengers and crew. All passengers deserve to be treated with respect. We also must assure that our Flight Attendants are treated respectfully and safely on board," he says.
Oh. The "your Flight Attendant is a security officer" gambit. That's what many passengers would prefer flight attendants primarily weren't. They'd like a little customer service at times.
From the first line, there's the clear implication the mom somehow threatened the flight attendant's safety and security.
You'll have to wait for a mention of the mom from Ross. It comes quite a few sentences into his statement.
Having concluded his appeal for respect, he blames the airline.
"Our dedicated flight attendants at American strive every day to make the passenger experience the best in the industry. However this has become more challenging due to tight schedules, overcrowded planes, shrinking seats, and limited overhead bin space. All of these factors are related to corporate decisions beyond the control of passengers and flight attendants," he says.
There's surely a lot of truth to this. Airlines are interested only in packing them in and making as much money out of them as they can.
But when Ross finally comes to the mom, he offers curious wording.
"We don't know all of the facts related to a passenger who became distraught while boarding a plane," he says.
It's as if the actions of the flight attendant could have played absolutely no part in this mom of twins becoming distraught. It's as if she simply suffered an attack of Human Distraught Syndrome.
The video makes that hard to believe.
If she was unaccountably distraught and unreasonable, how likely is it that fellow passengers would have remonstrated against the flight attendant on her behalf?
As yet, no reliable facts have emerged to suggest she behaved badly. Moreover, the airline has already declared: "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 isn't just the man in the video who forcefully explains to the flight attendant that his behavior is unacceptable. Another passenger describes the flight attendant as "violent."
"He stormed by me with the stroller and I said something like, 'What are you doing? You almost hit that baby!' And he yelled at me to 'stay out of it!' just like he does in the video," passenger Olivia Morgan, an executive with an education-related nonprofit, told Fox 13.
Ross, however, next takes aim at the male passenger. "It appears another passenger may have threatened a flight attendant with violence, which is a violation of federal law and no small matter," he says.
What the male passenger actually says in the video is that if he'd been treated the way the mom had, he would have decked the flight attendant.
His words: "Hey bud, you do that to me and I'll knock you flat." This is after he's said: "What's the guy's name that did that with the stroller?"
Some might see that as not quite a threat. They might think it more a robust explanation of the gravity of the flight attendant's behavior, in the view of the passenger.
Of course, not all the facts have emerged.
But here we have a male flight attendant -- whom the video shows to be in an aggressive frame of mind -- against a woman who's with 15-month-old twins. And the woman ends up extremely upset.
Some might think it's the flight attendant's job to make sure the woman is comfortable.
This isn't to say that passengers don't behave badly. They most certainly do.
Still, it seems that some of those who work in the airline industry have a very different attitude to such incidents than do, say, passengers.
After the infamous United Airlines incident in which 69-year-old David Dao was dragged bloodied from a plane, one United pilot said that the passengers should have been firmly told that one of them had to accept the airline's $800 compensation offer or the flight would be canceled.
For all the pressures that everyone on ever-tighter planes endure, flight attendants are still supposed to stay calm.
That's the job. Even from what we see in the video, this flight attendant doesn't.
Yes, Ross is the union head. His job is to play defense. A little more thought to the predicament of the passenger might have been helpful, though. Perhaps, instead of pointing fingers at everyone but his own union member, he might have stayed silent for a little longer.