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American Airlines Flight Turns to Barroom Brawl Over Bathroom Access

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by hearit

hearit's picture
In The News

If TSA doesn't serve as the cause for disruption in the flying experience, the reaction of onboard passengers and flight crew can apparently take its place. An American Airlines passenger, irritated by lack of access to the plane bathroom on Flight 256, is grabbed by fellow passengers in the equivalent of a barroom brawl.

The American Airlines plane was bound for JFK Airport from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
When 63-year-old Michael Isabelle found his pathway allegedly blocked by a cart, the traveler began kicking the beverage cart until it toppled. In what is arguably a questionable reaction in judgment, in dealing with an apparently angry passenger, an AA flight attendant allegedly grabbed the passenger’s arm before getting punched in the stomach.

More than one AA passenger decided to enter the melee -- with swings and physical violence. Passengers decided to hit Isabelle, who was later cuffed with plastic cuffs obviously provided by American Airlines flight crew.

Fellow passengers -- who took it upon themselves to start swinging -- say the man was screaming but couldn't understand what he was saying. According to Flight 256 passenger Ramiro Silos, "I could not understand him. But when we took him down, we took him down hard," brags the passenger -- who additionally claims nearly a decade of training in ju jitsu martial arts.

Silos brags that he and his friend and fellow passenger, identified as Fernando Gil, slugged the struggling passenger -- several times -- before pinning him down.

American Airlines confirms only: "We did have a disruptive passenger on board the flight. He was subdued and turned over to local law enforcement on arrival in New York."

Interestingly the American Airlines flight attendant, Carlos Carrico, declined to file any type of criminal report against the passenger Michael Isabelle.

While the exact start of the argument is unclear, aside from upset over blocked bathroom access, reactions very clearly escalated the situation. Michael Isabelle was taken for psychiatric evaluation, upon landing to JFK Airport. The Massachusetts-based passenger is said to be a war veteran, and reason for his actions -- and the chain reaction -- aboard Flight 256 is still unknown. Isabelle had shown no physical violence toward any human on the American Airlines flight, until grabbed by the AA flight attendant.

While the flight attendant's reaction may have been purely out of shock, in seeing the beverage cart toppled, the reaction of physical violence by fellow passengers could have put the entire plane's safety in danger: in what seems a machismo-based lack of plan, the involved American Airlines passengers freely admit to punching Isabelle before restraining him. "I did ju jitsu in Brazil for nine years, so I can handle myself," passenger Ramiro Silos told the media. "But yes, we were worried because he [American Airlines passenger Isabelle] was acting crazy. We didn't know what was going on."

With the open admission that they didn't know what was going on, perhaps the two-on-one slugging of a fellow passenger isn't the wisest idea. The punches could've put the entire crew and fellow American Airlines passengers in a far worse possible danger. But, then, leave it to machismo. Swing now, think later.

If American Airlines planned to file legal charges, they should've considered all three who were involved in the violence. Silos' statement that he "can handle" himself is questionable -- or perhaps that's the only person he can "handle", since two men are obviously capable of restraining a single man without the need of a barroom brawl on board a plane.

And, perhaps, the refusal of American Airlines or the involved flight attendant in pressing legal charges isn't quite so strange after all. It just may be that the airline doesn't really want to be involved in a Federal investigation.

Maybe the AA flight attendant is a nice guy, a truly nice guy, who doesn't want to be a source of legal woes for Mr. Michael Isabelle. But then it does seem strange that his employer wouldn't press the issue, with a complete list of "witnesses"/passengers at the ready -- who saw the flight attendant punched by a passenger. Perhaps it's plausible that a 2009 on-board incident serves as a good chunk of the reason that American Airlines isn't pushing the issue: on a 2009 Delta Airlines flight, a "discussion" -- between a flight attendant and passenger -- over bathroom use or access turned into a Federal investigation. The attached Related Link tells the story. It just may be that American Airlines doesn't want to go the way of Delta.


John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport
JFK Expressway (Expy) & S Cargo Road (Rd)
Jamaica, NY 11430
United States
Phone: (718) 244-4444
40° 39' 43.938" N, 73° 48' 22.4352" W
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