Miami Passenger Attacks American Airlines Agent Who Demands She Gate Check Her Bag

An American Airlines passenger assaulted a gate agent in Miami after being told they would have to gate check their carry on bag. The bag itself doesn’t look oversized. Presumably the agent believed that the overhead bins on the aircraft were full, and there’s no more room.

With new, larger overhead bins on American Airlines Boeing 737s, and increasingly on Airbus A321s, there would almost never be a time when passengers need to give up their carry on bags if other passengers would put their bags in the bins sideways. Proper bag loading, it seems, is always a way to prevent violence.

The situation begins as the agent and passenger have a confrontation over her bag at the bottom of the jet bridge, in front of the aircraft’s boarding door. The woman has words with him, not wanting to give up the bag. They both have their hands on the bag, wrestling for it as the woman tries to board even as she’s told she can’t bring it on. And the words escalate to violence, as she lunges at the employee.

Finally the employee grabs the bag and starts taking it up the jet bridge. The passenger latches onto it, and starts to get dragged with it.


6am shenanigans at MIA #fyp #foryou #americanairlines #airport #wild #NightDoneRight #miami

♬ original sound – Santi Medina

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker says today’s passengers are ‘somewhat different’ than his airline’s ‘normal clientele’. Nowhere is that more evident than Miami, whether it’s brawling over masks, revolting before a New York flight, fighting at the check-in counter, giving birth in the restroom, brawling over standby seats or walking onto the tarmac in a medical gown.

So far American Airlines has borne the brunt of Miami crazy, since they operate a hub at the South Florida airport. I’ve written that ‘every airline’s passengers are Spirit Airlines passengers now’. However Spirit itself is building up a major presence there. Expect things to become even more surreal.

(HT: donotblink)

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. One question here- In the video we see a guy behind this woman, presumably, about to board with his bag. We don’t see whether he actually makes it but I’m curious if he did.

    With that said, it’s pretty much never a good idea to attack a gate agent.

  2. American Airlines CEO Doug Parker is somewhat different than a normal C-suite airline executive. Agree or disagree in your comments below.

  3. Despite flying FC, AA is the ONLY airline where I’ve repeatedly had to gate check my carry on because of their tiny overhead compartments.

    Not because it’s oversized, not because the compartments are full, because their cheap butt tiny regional planes compartments don’t hold anything. On one flight, EVERYONE had to gate check their bags.

    This same bag made it around the world, flying in even some small death trap airlines, not in FC snd AA is the ONLY one who rejected it.

  4. AA really needs to train its people in de-escalation. There is never a need for a person of power to lower themselves to the same type of response as someone who is resisting cooperation.
    The gate agent has all of the legitimate power and doesn’t need to touch the bag until the passenger is willing to relinquish it. All they have to say is “You cannot carry your bag on the plane and the plane won’t leave if you board with it” (assuming they have a legitimate reason to deny that person from carrying that bag on the plane.
    When people who have legitimate authority start acting like leaders instead of resorting to the same childish behavior that customers are using, we can solve these problems.

  5. @Tim
    Did you just cut and paste your rant from a police reform message board?

    At your pace everyone we come in contact with will need to be “trained”.
    How about human beings shouldn’t act like jerks and be “trained” to treat other human beings with dignity and respect without resorting to violence.
    If you act like a child you will be dragged off like a child.

  6. There’s no reason why the agent needs to take the bag away from her (unless it has a weapon of course). That’s just terrible customer service.

  7. The place to reject oversize bags is BEFORE the jet bridge, NOT on the jet bridge. Seeing the large number of people on the jet bridge waiting to board with their carry-ons, it is highly doubtful that overhead storage was full. The reason for rejecting the women’s carry-on is very unclear, as it doesn’t look oversize at all. It did seem to have a red tag which are used when leaving a carry-on on the jet bridge. However I didn’t observe many, if any, carry-ons waiting to be “gate checked.” It’s really unclear why the jet bridge agent was taking the women’s carry-on. Definitely a lack of common sense being followed, which appears to be a malady more than a few are suffering with these days.

  8. Recently visiting Miami, I completely understand Mr. Parkers comment about the traveler being ‘somewhat different’ than normal clientele. The streets and beaches were full of rowdy tourists causing scenes, smoking dope, yelling, and fighting. Even laying on the beach at the Ritz Carlton and Lowes, I was blasted with profanity laced rap music. The airports were full of uneducated and inexperienced travelers that seem to want to make up their own rules rather than following the existing rules. I think a lot of the blame is all the extra money the government has put in all these people’s pockets who now think they can life a lifestyle far beyond what they are used to. Hopefully that will fizzle out soon and the ‘normal’ clientele will return.

  9. Every bag is tagged and collected at the jetbridge door down to ramp. Period. Everyone in line had a tag.

    If someone puts their hands an any gate agent, game on. If fi get attacked, I’m trained by Not ONLY are you not flying ever on AA again, you will be arrested for assault.

    De-escalation works only with reasonable people. Not with crazy.

    If you all think you can do better then I invite you to try. Every flight someone has the issue of a lifetime, and it’s ridiculous.

    But you all know better sitting in the peanut gallery.

  10. Fred, I absolutely detest rap music too. And traveling around the world the I’ve seen absolutely horrible behavior by some Americans. But do you really think $300/week is enough to stay in Miami at a hotel, plus food, plus transportation for a week? And are the streets really “full of” people fighting and smoking dope? A slight exaggeration maybe, or were you maybe only noticing certain travelers? (At the moment pot’s still illegal for recreational use in Florida.) One sees what one expects to see….

  11. Regardless of the reason behind gate checking the bag, I am of the opinion that the FA should not have touched that woman’s property. As soon as he does I don’t think the woman should be held accountable for this so called ‘Assault’. Unfortunately when it comes to air travel there is now normalisation of deviance where we believe that it is okay for service employees to act like security/police. Correct action is just to prevent her boarding and if it escalates then call for security to come collect her luggage or both her and her luggage.

  12. Pognation and Tim,

    Read your contract of carriage closely. You are expected to follow the rules. You are not entitled to bring a carry-on aboard. You are required to wear a mask. You are required to follow crew member instructions. No one wants to remind these idiots how to behave, or be a ‘mall cop’. Airport employees are to be treated with dignity and respect. It isnt “Have it your way” such as a fast-food franchise. (Not that any worker be treated poorly).
    People need to grow up….and people like you need to quit accepting belligerent behavior and blaming the victim

  13. drrichard,

    No, $300 is not enough. But remember that thousands of dollars have been given out in stimulus checks. Many people received thousands of extra dollars during the pandemic. There was also a lot of use and abuse of the PPP loans.

    As for pot ‘everywhere’ I stand by that statement. EVERY single time I walked down the street I passed multiple people smoking pot. EVERY day on the beach there were people smoking pot and I had to endure the smoke. I went to dinner and sat on a patio. A woman came a smoked a joint right next to us off to the side of the patio. Not my idea of an enjoyable dinner. It may be legal and I dont care if someone smokes it, but when their smoke blows on others that crosses a line.

    As for fights, I saw one EVERY day I was there. Usually at night and usually appeared to involve alcohol. There was also a night that a huge crowd of ‘youths’ on bikes come through and down Lincoln Rd. There were at least 4 police cars and all they could do is stand and watch as they terrorized peaceful people trying to shop and enjoy themselves.

    Up until the pandemic I went to Miami 1-2 times a year. Its not about seeing what one expects to see. When you are used to one thing and then things change drastically, one notices. I would like to see a return of a more civil society because this is far from it.

  14. AA can’t wait for Spirit! The Trump lovers will have an airline they can afford.

  15. Ehhh let them fight. Not too long ago, you’d go to jail for assaulting someone. Now??….not a chance. Sure she MAY (doubtful) get arrested and spend an hour or two at the station but any meaningful charges are out of the question. For the po’s who have the misfortune of being called to this, there is no upside. Whatever they do it will be wrong. The headline in the Miami Herald will be “Armed White Men (police) Kidnapped Innocent Mother Of 7 Returning From Missionary Trip Feeding The Poor.”
    Board the rest of the passengers, close the door, push the plane.

  16. Hmmm . . . Can you spot the common element in most of these violent passenger viral videos?
    #CarryOn Lives Matter

  17. Seems to me that the bag isn’t the problem, but just what the agent grabs to get the woman to not board the plane for some reason.

  18. Attacking the GA is obviously not called for, though I do appreciate the passenger’s frustration. Ground staff in Miami are famously rude and aggressive, pair that with haphazard enforcement of a rule that really shouldn’t be in place, and this happens. I’m not justifying the passenger’s actions, but AA could really do a lot to improve the issue of gate checking bags that comfortably fit in the overhead.

  19. I don’t get it. There are passengers queuing in the jetbridge who clearly have their bags in hand. What’s the real story on why this woman was singled out to give up her bag?

  20. @Aaron. It’s because she’s black and the black gate agent is a white supremacist. Is that what you were looking for?

  21. @Aaron I’m going to take an educated guess based on an earlier comment who said they saw all the other passengers in line with red gate check tags. If that’s the case, they were waiting to hand off their bags before getting on the plane. Apparently the passenger in question also has a red tag. Again, if this is the case, clearly the gate agents had declared there was insufficient room on the plane for more bags in overhead bins. Given all that, it’s not too far a leap to guess that this passenger still tried to take their bag onboard rather than leaving it at the door to be gate checked. We don’t see the beginning of the altercation, but again, it’s not too hard to guess that she was told to leave her bag, like everyone else, and when she decided the rules didn’t apply to her, she rebelled, tried to take it onboard, was denied boarding, and AA personnel responded to the situation.

  22. AA agents seem to target those they think will be an easy touch when enforcing baggage regulations and not necessarily those who exceed the limits. Rules are enforced haphazardly, or are they sometimes applied racially?

    We’ve been a victim of their “enforcement” with first class seats and bags that have always fit in the overhead bins on mainline aircraft. Meanwhile, others were walking around us with bags that were egregiously overstuffed. Apply rules consistently or not.

    When the overhead bins are full or when bags are so overstuffed as to present a size issue or danger, everyone should have their bags checked before going down to board. It is easier to contain problems in the gate area.

  23. Why did you include the woman giving birth in that badly behaved group – like as if she had some other choice……..

  24. @Minnie, I didn’t read that as badly behaved, just not “normal” (Doug Parker’s words). Of course some very unempathetic people are going to say the woman should have known better than to fly. I, and I presume Gary, have more empathy than to say something like that, though.

  25. I won’t check my carry on bag because it always holds my medications. I am diabetic and have PTSD. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. So, no, I won’t let you lose and misroute my meds. It happened once on United and it’s not gonna happen again.

  26. @Casey, they would just tell you to remove your meds and check the rest of your bag. Typically when forced to check a carry on, you’re still allowed to bring your underseat personal item.

  27. The explanation in the article makes no sense after you watch the video. Look at how many people are after her with the same size bag and that’s how it gets handled? no there’s more to it

  28. @Minnie
    They’re called “birthing persons” now. Not woman. Men can have babies now too….or something

    Also, we would have accepted illegal alien or anchor baby in this particular case as well.

  29. I had the same issue in Miami with AA two weeks ago. My bag has never had an issue,been around the world,fourth flight of the week, she told me because of the one inch expander I had to check it. Several people with the same size bags boarded. I said I’d open before I put it in the bin and reduce the expander, because I was already on the bridge,she told me “seriously ” and rolled her eyes. I checked the bag,but my next flights I booked weren’t America.

  30. The gate agent was completely at fault. He asked for it. The woman’s bag wasn’t oversized and he was simply bullying her because he could. There is always enough room for overhead bags. Always. The agents tell you that you have to check your bags because “there’s no more room.” Bullshit. Then you board the plane and there’s plenty of room. Shame on American Airlines. The agent was lucky to have just been attacked. He deserved to be fired. Flying is hard enough these days without SOB gate agents.

  31. ran today to make connection on AA flying F

    Azzhole AA gate agent made me check my carryon that would fit easily and not oversized despite my trying to explain i’m in F and there will be plenty of room

    currently waiting 15 min waiting for luggage to arrive

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