Passengers reported that as the plane taxied to the runway, a flight attendant who had been reciting safety instructions suddenly began ranting incoherently into the microphone.
We are not taking off, she reportedly said. We're having technical difficulties. We are heading back to the gate.
Other crew members interrupted her to assure passengers that takeoff would proceed as normal.
The flight attendant's speech patterns disintegrated from there. After addressing the pilot to assure him that it would not be her fault if the plane crashed, she started speaking in disconnected fragments and made references to American Airlines' bankruptcy troubles.
It was just unbelievable, said a passenger to the Dallas Observer. She was screaming bloody murder. Other passengers described the rant as an apparent mental breakdown.
Crew members and a few concerned passengers made efforts to restrain the flight attendant as the pilot took the aircraft back to the gate. During the struggle, another flight attendant was injured. Both attendants were taken to hospitals for treatment.
Another crew was quickly assigned to the flight, which arrived at its Chicago O'Hare destination about an hour late. Passengers were treated to free drinks en route.
We will ensure that the affected flight attendants receive proper care, said American Airlines in a statement. [W]e commend our other crew members for their assistance in quickly getting the aircraft back to the gate so that customers could be re-accommodated. Our customers were not in danger at any time... We apologize for any inconvenience to our customers and we appreciate their patience and understanding.
American Airlines is in the process of filing a plan of reorganization for its Chapter 11 bankruptcy, reports Bloomberg. They are seeking $1.25 billion in labor concessions, which includes 13,000 job cuts. Members of the Transport Workers Union are in talks with the airline's management and are now seeking assistance from the U.S. National Mediation Board to resolve disagreements over budgetary decisions. The airline has previously rejected early retirement suggestions from the flight attendants' union in exchange for reducing job cuts.