Flight attendant union leader responds to recent in-flight scuffle

In this Wed., April 22, 2015 photo, an American Airlines Boeing 737 taxis before taking off at Miami International Airport in Miami. 

AP

Only on “CBS This Morning,” the president of the union representing American Airlines flight attendants spoke with CBS News correspondent Kris Van Cleave about the recent video that showed one of the airlines’ attendants nearly hitting a woman with a baby stroller as he took it away.

Bob Ross, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, said he doesn’t want to make excuses for the video. 

“He’s a good flight attendant, he’s been doing this job for a long time,” Ross said. “This is not indicative of the other 26,000 attendants that we represent nor is it indicative of the airline industry as a whole,” Ross said.  

Ross says he’s looking at what could have been done differently.

American would not comment on that claim, but the airline did quickly apologize for the incident and grounded the flight attendant. It offered a full refund to the woman with the stroller, a $1,000 voucher and upgrade for her family to first class for the rest of their trip to Argentina. 

Caught-on-camera conflicts have put a spotlight on the tense conditions passengers can sometimes face. Over the past few decades, airlines have stuffed more people on each flight while also reducing seat sizes and adding fees that put overhead space at a premium. 

“The tensions are definitely higher. Flight attendants, I must say, have a hard job,” said Paul Hudson, president of the website FlyersRights.org. 

Hudson says passengers feel they’re paying more for worse service.

“It’s something to endure, not really something to enjoy,” Hudson said. The numbers of cancellations and people bumped from flights are at their lowest levels in decades and complaints last year were down. Still, irritation is running high.

“Yes, it is a pressure cooker right now,” Ross said. 

Pressure, Ross says, we’re all feeling. 

“Passengers and the flight attendants are in this together. We’re a team in order to get the aircraft out on time, and to get loaded and do it in a safe and secure and comfortable manner,” Ross said.