Just one day before American Airlines' parent company AMR Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in New York, a passenger captured raw video footage of over a dozen employees dancing on the tarmac.
YouTube user taylorgaw shot the video (below) while waiting for a flight to take off at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.
This dance backed my flight up for two hours, Taylor claims in the YouTube post.
Taylor believed the dance was part of a commercial shoot. In the video, a camerawoman is seen filming the American Airlines workers toe-tapping on the tarmac.
Twirling in unison, the dancers are accompanied by another set of employees - a three-piece band just outside of a gate playing Johnny Cash's I Walk the Line.
The video would hardly be noteworthy were it not for the events that took place hours later.
Bankruptcy reorganization can be a painful ordeal for airline employees and the sheer joy seen in this video contrasts the likely frustrations of the months ahead.
American fought off bankruptcy for a decade, after spending years trying to avoid it. Last year, American was the only major U.S. airline in the red. Parent company AMR had a net loss of $471 million. Meanwhile, Delta had net earnings of $593 million and United $854 million.
Formerly the largest U.S. airline, American has dropped to No. 3 in terms of passenger traffic. The Fort Worth, Texas-based company, which traces its roots to 1920s air-mail operations in the Midwest, has lost money in eight of the 10 previous years. It listed $24.7 billion in assets and $29.6 billion in debt in Chapter 11 papers filed Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan.
In the interim period, there will be some inevitable dissatisfaction as workers fight for contracts. Some of this may spill into the passenger cabin but, in the end, American will likely emerge more competitive and with better long-term stability. This is good news for both employees and frequent travelers.