A flight attendant onboard an American Airlines flight from San Jose in Costa Rica to Miami, Florida reportedly suffered a broken ankle after the plane hit severe turbulence on Tuesday morning. American Airlines flight AA1204 encountered turbulence approximately one and a half hours into short flight across the Caribbean Sea. One flight attendant had to be transported to the hospital on arrival but the airline confirms that they were later released.
Some reports claim the flight attendant suffered a fractured ankle during the turbulence but American Airlines declined to comment on these specifics. The FAA was also unwilling to discuss crew member injuries but did confirm that the Boeing 737 aircraft encountered “severe turbulence” just south of Havana, Cuba.
“American Airlines Flight 1204 from San Jose, Costa Rica to Miami encountered turbulence approximately one hour prior to landing in Miami,” an airline spokesperson confirmed.
“The Boeing 737-800 aircraft landed without incident at 10:36 a.m. ET (4th February 2019) and safely taxied to a gate. One flight attendant was transported to a local hospital to receive medical attention and was subsequently released,” the statement continued.
No other passengers or crew were injured.
We don’t know how the flight attendant came to fracture her ankle on this occasion but it does remind us of a 2015 incident involving the Dubai-based Emirates. In that case, one member of cabin crew broke her ankle and nine more were injured when the Airbus A380 experienced turbulence as it was approaching Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
The accident investigation later found that the footwear being worn by flight attendant was partly to blame for the severity of her injuries. Emirates issues its female cabin crew with flat footwear which is to be worn in-flight as well as the usual high heels. Before this incident, the airline would allow flight attendants to change into their 3-inch heels during descent.
“The injured cabin crewmember lost her balance due to the unexpected high g-force, combined with the lack of support provided by the footwear that she wore for that phase of the flight,” the investigation report concluded.
“The high heel footwear provided insufficient support to enable the cabin crewmember to maintain her balance during the turbulence encounter and led to her falling and sustaining a serious injury to her ankle.”
Emirates later changed its standard operating procedures to ban the wearing of high heels at any point in-flight.
But what’s staggering is the fact that many airlines still allow flight attendantsto wear high heels during all phases of flight. Apart from the obvious safety implications, it’s surprising that crew can bare to wear high heels for so many hours of the day.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.