Angry American Airlines Passenger Road Rages Against Flight Attendant

American Airlines flight attendant Elizabeth Braley shared an incident that happened on her way home after an international trip. A red sedan cut her off on the road several times. The driver seemed to be “trying to run [her] off the road.” The crewmember tried to avoid the sedan, to get out of the way, and to otherwise flee to safety. But, she says, the driver kept at it.

Finally the sedan pulls up next to the flight attendant’s car and yells insults at American Airlines and throws things at her. She “almost wrecked” multiple times.

Ms. Braley concedes that her airline “struggling with operations right now” (in fact, they’re performing well by historical standards) but says “I just work for them” and she says “I get frustrated too” at her employer, mentioning the lack of boarding pay (something Delta’s non-union flight attendants receive).

@elizabethbraley4 flight attendants should not have to worry about their life trying to just get home #flightattendant ♬ original sound – Elizabeth Braley

This struck a chord with me. One of my consistent messages is that the front line person you deal with in your travels is rarely to blame for the things that go wrong (and occasionally when they are, it’s an honest mistake). What matters is the lengths that people go to fix problems and make travel better.

It seems like the woman in the sedan recognized this flight attendant because she was wearing her uniform. Maybe there were other identifying marks, or the road rager saw this flight attendant in her car at the airport and followed her.

But what did she get out of the interaction? How much better did she really feel, taking out her aggression towards American Airlines out on a woman who works for them, and who seems nice enough?

Even people who have no desire to be kind or even decent are well-advised not to treat others this way. In this case, what the wannabe assailant did was dangerous, not just for the crewmember but also for herself.

More generally you aren’t going to get people to help you by being nasty towards them. When we travel most of the time the people we interact with do not benefit personally from helping us. They have work to do, and they can choose to go out of their way and above and beyond – or not. And the way we get them to do this is by building a rapport with them, not by causing them to want to be rid of us as quickly as possible.

I try to sympathize with the challenges an employee faces – whether it’s a gate or ticket counter agent, or a hotel check-in clear, or a reservations agent on the phone. It often comes as a surprise! There I am, with obvious problems or I wouldn’t need their help, first recognizing that:

  • they are a person, too
  • who may not be having a great day either! If I’m having a bad day, chances are that there are numerous travelers in my position too – all demanding something from the agent and it can be overwhelming
  • so I’ll acknowledge this (“I bet this is a rough day to be at work, isn’t it?”), I’ll smile, and I’ll be a bit self-deprecating (“I’m going to be your next problem person”) while also thanking them and showing appreciation.

Why do I do this? Because it’s possible to be a little bit human when we interact with other humans, even those we don’t know and even when we’re having a bad day. And also because it motivates them to want to help me rather than simply moving on to the next complainer.

Remember that the person right in front of you probably isn’t the one who caused the problems you’re facing. But they can make your day a little bit better or a little bit worse. Why not make their day better and not worse, too?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Elizabeth should have pointed her camera at her attacker’s license plate to facilitate arrest and prosecution.

    Every airline’s customer-facing staffers deserve better than they get from their sometimes (I think increasingly) insane clientele. But when a passenger is already coiled too tight, not rational, or spoiling for a confrontation, an airline’s choices re: customer communications style obviously drive some over the edge.

  2. While this may have happened – in this day and age it’s also plausible to assume that it didn’t. Or perhaps not exactly as she said. Who knows? We only have her word and she never called authorities or documented any details. What bothers me is that in the two videos posted she ends up talking about not being paid for boarding and not having a contract. A rather odd way to finish off in this narrative.

    Could be any of these…

    -It’s true and if so its horrible to imagine someone as triggered to chase her on the highway. However, you need to call the police. Even after the car is gone if you felt at all threatened. Especially if you are going to use it in a video where you open yourself to questions and talk about the plight of flight attendants.

    -It’s partially true. She did get chased. But it had nothing to do with her “uniform” and was related to something else on the road. Or the person only made the airline comment after other heated exchanges, much like a person might resort to calling someone fat or old etc in a volley of insults.

    -It’s not true and she created this entire thing to get attention for flight attendants and sympathy regarding contracts etc As, clearly, they are getting little sympathy these days for many of their demands.

    Bottom line, who knows? There is no reason she can’t call the police now to file a complaint about this vehicle. And, given the attention she is getting on Tik Tok it may not be a bad idea, especially given the supposed stalker could now easily identify her on social media.

  3. Hey Gary,

    It’s your Facebook friend Drewry stopping in to check and see what’s going on your blog.

    As I stumbled upon this blog post detailing the incident involving an angry American Airlines passenger and a flight attendant, a wave of emotions washed over me. While I am not directly involved in this event, it serves as a stark reminder of the challenges faced by both passengers and flight attendants in the fast-paced world of air travel.

    First and foremost, it’s crucial to recognize that incidents like this are isolated and not representative of the majority of air travel experiences. The overwhelming majority of passengers and flight attendants treat each other with respect and courtesy, ensuring a smooth journey for all.

    Nonetheless, it is essential to delve deeper into the root causes of such confrontations. Traveling, especially on long-haul flights, can be incredibly taxing, both physically and emotionally. Passengers are often tired, stressed, and anxious, while flight attendants juggle multiple responsibilities in a high-pressure environment.

    As travelers, we must remember that flight attendants are not merely servers of refreshments but trained professionals who prioritize our safety above all else. They have undergone rigorous training to handle emergencies and ensure a safe and pleasant journey for everyone on board.

    However, it is equally important for airlines to invest in robust training programs for their employees to handle tense situations gracefully. Techniques to defuse conflicts, empathy training, and conflict resolution skills could go a long way in preventing such incidents from escalating.

    Additionally, as passengers, we should make a conscious effort to empathize with the challenges flight attendants face. Taking a moment to appreciate their hard work and expressing gratitude for their service can make a world of difference. Let us remember that they are working tirelessly to make our journeys as comfortable and safe as possible.

    Furthermore, open communication is essential in any relationship, including the one between passengers and flight attendants. If you have a genuine concern or an issue, expressing it politely and respectfully will likely yield a more positive response from the crew.

    In conclusion, let us use this incident as an opportunity to foster empathy and understanding in air travel. By acknowledging the pressures faced by both passengers and flight attendants, we can work together to create a more pleasant and harmonious journey for everyone involved. Remember, a little kindness goes a long way in making the skies a friendlier place for all.

    Keep up the good work in your blogging my friend! 🙂

  4. Sorry, I don’t believe this story. A sensible person would be far more concerned about their welfare and recording the details of such an attack to seek justice. Posting this on social media smells like a bad stunt

  5. I want to believe her, but…

    The fact she was complaining about lack of pay during boarding raises several red flags for me.

    ps. I personally believe all flight attendants should be paid during boarding.

  6. You’re referring to this nut case in the red sedan as tho she were normal. She got nothing out of the interaction, and she did not feel better afterwards. She is obviously insane and needs to be institutionalized and treated. We need to get the crazies some help in this country before any more of them pick up a gun and shoot more innocents. What will it take before we start paying some attention to mental illness and getting these people treated or incarcerated?

  7. Straight to TikTok and not the police. Right before a possible strike. 😉 Seems legit.

  8. Whether it happened or not, this is a solid argument for using a dashcam, a device which has saved many people from violence and fraud.

  9. Yeah, nice job elevating a poorly made-up fairy tale. It’s so convenient for Braley, yet none of the story adds up. As I have elsewhere, I call BS on her story. The details make no sense, especially if you actually give them some thought. This didn’t happen. It’s nothing more than a late night walk in -20 F weather through MAGA country in Streeterville Chicago (where maybe 2 republicans live). Or perhaps it’s a car ride in Alabama that takes a few unexplained days. Either one will do because it’s pure crap.

  10. Whether this story is true or not, it does serve as a reminder why people should have dashcams. You won’t need one till you need one. Came in very handy when I got into a crash and can point out the 5 “no turn” signs where a guy turned right into my car.

    Lot of nutjobs out there. Any evidence is better than no evidence.

  11. My Airline and I will defend it, we’re all part of this great big team trying to help people on life’s journey. No one deserves to be treated like that. We have over 1000 airplanes with millions of moving part we service over 300 airports in numerous countries sometimes things go bad for weather ATC planes break people get sick people have bad days all kind of things. Planes don’t fly on pixie dust and magic. I have been fixing airplanes for over 50 years my team without a doubt is the finest team ever. The person causing so much grief never confronts me I have a big AA sticker on my car I’m proud of where I work. To the young Lady upset next time put you 4 ways on pull off the side of the road when safe call the police. Be proud of your profession.

  12. I feel the woman’s pain. I wouldn’t do it but have felt that way. I don’t use AA if possible but had to this past weekend. Late in getting away from the initial gate. After 30 minutes, announcement made that weather was holding up all flights to and from CLT. Don’t worry folks, no planes are taking off so you won’t miss your connector. HA! Nice thought but not true. Landed 5 minutes after our connect was scheduled to take off and found that the flight had closed. Went around the corner to meet with a representative and watched our original connector flight sit at the gate for 40 minutes taking off 45 minutes after schedule! Question all the passengers asked is why they closed the flight if they were just going to sit there! Good question; no answers. I won’t travel AA again if at all possible.

  13. Isn’t there a company policy about posting on social media while wearing a company issued uniform, and making comments and complaints about one’s own airline? This FA may find herself on the opposite side of the picket line at the unemployment office for potentially breaking the social media policy. As Judge Judy says, “beauty fades, but dumb is forever.” Big Brother is always watching and I guarantee the seniority list will be one less FA in the future.

  14. While this would have been sweet justice, cumdumpster up there is making it up.

  15. Jesse Smollett got a great new job! FA for American and those sexy uniforms, ooh la la. Just a couple of union busting Nigerian weightlifting thugs who want to run you off the road because you didn’t relocate the internet influencer so a leperous child could sit with it’s birthing parent.

    Nope Sister, this is just union agit-prop. And read that contract about making official social media posts with claims about the airline in uniform… going to be one of the last times you will be misrepresenting them ever.

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