It was a bumpy ride Friday morning for passengers aboard American Airlines flight 2332. And that was before the aircraft ever left the ground.
Passengers said the flight had just pushed back from the gate at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport when a senior flight attendant began ranting on the intercom that the airplane was unsafe, and that they were in danger of crashing if the pilot proceeded with the takeoff.
"She made two comments, that if we didn’t go back to the gate we would crash," said passenger Stephen Termunde, who was seated in the 11th row. "It was almost like she was talking, and didn’t know the PA was on."
"It was just very bizarre," added passenger Carolyn Kazmi, who was travelling with a group of Sam’s Club employees from Dallas. "She spoke in and out of Spanish. She talked about the flight crashing, that we were going to go back to the gate."
Passenger Bethany Christakos called the entire episode "very sad."
"Honestly, we thought someone had intercepted the PA on their phone," she said. "It was not until she said, 'Well I’m not responsible when this plane crashes, when everyone started freaking out.'"
The flight had continued taxiing as the melee intensified, leaving some passengers baffled about warnings that the aircraft had issues, even as they proceeded to the runway.
"Thank goodness we weren’t in the air," said passenger Kevin Ritch. "She made comments during the event about being off her medication and other stuff."
Passengers described a chaotic scene, where fellow flight attendants rushed to the front of the plane, some attempting to wrestle the intercom phone from their colleague. But as the scuffle intensified, the airline employees summoned first class passengers to help.
"I grabbed her arms, there were about four of us, I guess, five of us, including the flight attendants who actually sat her back down in my seat," Ritch said. "She began talking rants, sporadically church, dying, crashes…"
Another passenger, Brad Leclear, called 911, then joined the attempt to control the woman.
"She claimed when we were holding her, I tried to talk her down and calm her down a little bit. She said she was bipolar," he said.
Eventually the aircraft returned to its DFW gate, where the woman was removed by airport police.
"It seemed forever just to get her off the plane," Christakos said. "When they pulled her out, she was clearly not wanting to get into the police car, and was just fighting."
The woman, and a second flight attendant who reportedly suffered injuries in the scuffle, were taken to Dallas’ Parkland Hospital. The flight proceeded to Chicago without incident.