An American Airlines passenger claims that a man sitting behind her on a recent flight continually punched the back of her seat, leaving her with headaches and need of medical care.
Wendi Williams, who recorded the situation described her experience on Twitter last week, said the whole incident stemmed from a dispute over reclining her seat.
“After much consideration, and exhausting every opportunity for #AmericanAirlines to do the right thing, I’ve decided to share my assault, from the passenger behind me, and the further threats, from an American Airline flight attendant,” Williams wrote on Twitter. “She offered him a complimentary cocktail!”
Williams was traveling from New Orleans to Charlotte, North Carolina, on an American Eagle flight (owned by American Airlines). According to FlightView, this flight is an average of three hours long.
Apparently, she began to recline her seat and the man behind her asked her to put her seat back because he was eating. Williams claims that she obliged, but after he was finished eating, she reclined her seat again.
A little concerned that @AmericanAir didn’t feel this was a problem.— Amica Ali 💙 (@AmicaAli) February 8, 2020
Not sure about the rest of you, but I would surely consider someone continually tapping on the back of my seat to be a nuisance. https://t.co/DmRKUpA36O pic.twitter.com/Xts7hfQAcw
In the video posted by Williams, it looks like the man is purposefully and incessantly tapping or lightly punching the back of her seat. While this looks like a nuisance, Williams says that the man was punching much harder on the back of the seat before she started recording. She also says she had a previously existing condition that she had to have neck surgeries and spinal fusions to treat since the incident.
"I’ve lost time at work, had to visit a doctor, got x-rays, and have has horrible headaches for a week," she explained.
To make matters worse, according to Williams, the flight attendant did not help the situation.
“When the FA came. She rolled her eyes at me and said, “What?” She then told him it was tight back there and gave him rum! She told me I had to delete the video! It’s against the law to video on a plane. I asked her name & She gave me a Passenger Disturbance Notice,” she wrote.
American Airlines released a statement to NBC News, saying, “We are aware of a customer dispute that transpired on American Eagle flight 4392, operated by Republic Airways on January 31. The safety and comfort of our customers and team members is our top priority, and our team is looking into the issue.”
NBC News also noted that they could not verify what happened before or after the video was taken.
The issue caused Twitter users to sound off — both in support of Williams and not.
I HATE when the person in front of me reclines their seat so I never do it. Maybe because I am a little claustrophobic . Not defending the guy- that was inexcusable and should be reported.— Maggie Doyle (@caniswear) February 8, 2020
Did you have your seat reclined? That will set off people.— That is not how this works, none of this is normal (@ladytinab) February 8, 2020
When you recline you’re invading the space of the other passenger and ruining their experience. You’ve had a shocker here Wendy.— Michael (@BoxingFanatic_) February 12, 2020
It's ridiculous for ppl to say you shouldn't recline your seat. It's an option for a reason. You're fully within your right. If he needs more room, he should have gotten a seat that accommodated that. Why should you be inconvenienced? You paid for your seat.— Melissa Graver (@MelissaGraver) February 12, 2020
Using a standard function for the purpose it was meant for isn’t an excuse for this man to bully you into submission. Shame on AA. Would he have done this to another man?— Salvatore (@Salvi1969) February 12, 2020
@AmericanAir— Becky Spooner (@BeckySpooner1) February 8, 2020
The guy should have been moved. Period.
A person who has some agitation DOES NOT need alcohol.
This needs to go up the chain to someone with common sense!
omg..this is terrible, why didn't anyone help you?— Lizzie Tish (@belles_slave) February 8, 2020
Move your seat up then.— Libby Sparks (@libbysparks101) February 8, 2020
One Twitter user, who tried to see both sides of the situation said, “No offense but this gentleman, although he's an idiot, his seat does not recline. So it is unfair for the person in front to recline their seat.” Although some people consider reclining seats a nuisance or “rude”, there are no rules, spoken or unspoken, about not reclininy your seat if the person behind you does not. Either way, getting physical with other passengers is not a solution to the problem."
Williams said that she has been in contact with American Airlines, saying that the carrier apologized for the incident, but did not “accept responsibility” for the flight attendant.