×

Caught-on-video confrontations on United and America show a pattern of airline bullying, says passengers' lawyer

  • Airlines have been given a free pass to bully passengers for too long, and it has to stop, says attorney Thomas Demetrio.
  • Demetrio announces he's also representing the mother who was allegedly hit by American flight attendant with a stroller.
  • The attorney says if these confrontations were not recorded there wouldn't be a discussion about the problem.

Airlines have been given a free pass to bully passengers for too long, and it has to stop, said Thomas Demetrio, attorney for the dragged United passenger and now for an American Airlines passenger.

Demetrio announced Monday he's also representing the mother who was allegedly hit by American flight attendant with a stroller. Video of the American argument on a Friday flight from San Francisco to Dallas-Fort Worth went viral over the weekend.

The lawyer said the woman from the American confrontation contacted his office. "I don't go after anybody," he said on CNBC's "Squawk Box." He also said there has not been a settlement discussed with Dr. David Dao, who was dragged off a Chicago-to-Louisville United Express flight on April 9.

Unlike United, which initially blamed Dao but then repeatedly apologized, American took swift action and suspended the accused flight attendant. American said it's looking into whether the male flight attendant violently took away a stroller from the female passenger just before she boarded. The video starts after the exchange over the stroller.

Demetrio said the American Airlines situation featured an "out-of-control" flight attendant, a "haggard mother" weary from travel, a passenger who wanted to protect the woman, and a captain who was out of the cockpit trying to deal with the uproar. The lawyer identified the woman as a school teacher from Argentina who was traveling with her two children.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants, in a statement to media outlets, asked the public to withhold judgment of the American flight attendant involved.

The American incident came was less than two weeks after video of the United fiasco sparked national outrage over the way Dao was forcibly removed by airport police after he refused to give up his seat from an overbooked flight. At a news conference on April 13, Demetrio said there will "probably" be a lawsuit.

"United at the end of the day is totally responsible" after Dao was hauled off the plane "like a sack of potatoes," Demetrio told CNBC on Monday. However, he said he was encouraged by the airline's reassurances to no longer use police officers to "take off nonviolent, nonterrorist-type people — passengers like all of us."

United is conducting a review of the Dao fiasco, saying policy changes were set to be announced on April 30.

The videos are "a microcosmic of what's wrong with the airline industry today," said Demetrio. "We're helpless. We get to that airport. We're going through lines. We're going through metal detectors. We're just doing what we're told. And a lot of time it's in a rude manner. It's a bullying that takes place. And it culminated in Dr. Dao's physical situation."

The attorney said if these confrontations were not recorded there wouldn't be a discussion about the problem. He said Dao wants his case to help other passengers avoid what he went through.