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American Airlines Flight Disruption Blamed on ‘Mental Episode’

The American Airlines flight attendant whose rants about a possible crash and the Sept. 11 attacks prompted her plane’s crew to cancel takeoff had stopped taking medication for bipolar disorder, according to a police report.

Initially restrained by passengers, the 43-year-old attendant was handcuffed and put in leg restraints by officers when she resisted being taken from the plane during the March 9 incident, according to a Dallas-Fort Worth Airport police report. American Airlines declined to comment today on the incident.

The woman was taken to a Dallas hospital for evaluation of a “mental episode” and another flight attendant was taken to a second hospital after being kicked in the abdomen, according to the report.

Flight 2332 to Chicago was preparing to take off with 144 passengers and five crew, when the attendant’s behavior prompted a return to the airport gate. Airport police said have said they wouldn’t seek state criminal charges.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents 17,000 American employees, said today it makes mental health professionals available to help members deal with an “increasingly demanding and stressful” profession and that such instances are rare.

American and its flight attendants’ union are negotiating concessions that include 2,300 job cuts under a bankruptcy restructuring plan. The third-largest U.S. carrier wants to freeze pensions and change work rules and benefits.

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