Memphis, TN – The frustrated and angry wife of a New Jersey correctional officer on Wednesday shared a disturbing video that she filmed when an American Airlines customer service agent accused her husband of being a killer instead of helping to find their lost luggage (video below).
Theresia Tirado and her husband, Michael, were on their way to visit her parents in the Florida Keys on April 19 when their plans were derailed by bad weather.
Theresia told Blue Lives Matter that their flight from Philadelphia to Fort Lauderdale was cancelled, and they were rerouted through Memphis to Miami.
She said they knew the weather wasn’t the airline’s fault, so they rolled with the punches and when they arrived in Memphis after midnight, they were facing a more than four-hour layover before their next flight.
The American Airlines gate agent suggested the Tirado family go down to the baggage area to make sure their luggage had made it onto their new flight, and so they did.
One bag had arrived and a second bag was missing, so Theresia said her husband went to speak with the American Airlines customer service agent in the baggage claim office.
That’s when the real nightmare began, she told Blue Lives Matter.
A customer service representative for American Airlines named “Gabriel” took down their information but was unable to help locate their missing luggage, Theresia told Blue Lives Matter.
“He was horrible at his job, he had zero answers for us as to where our bag was,” she said. “We were so frustrated at this point trying to keep it together because our boys were sitting in the hallway near us. Finally we asked for someone else and my husband told the agent ‘you are useless to us.’”
Theresia said her husband’s remark caused the customer service agent to “lose his mind.”
“He started screaming at us, telling us that his children were our age and they were doctors and lawyers and we have no right to talk to him like that,” she told Blue Lives Matter.
She said her husband was confused as to why the customer service agent’s children’s occupations were relevant to their lost luggage, and tried to make a point of that with the agent.
“My husband said ‘I don’t care what your kids do - that has nothing to do with this. I am a police officer in New Jersey,’“ Theresia told Blue Lives Matter.
She said that was when the real craziness started.
“He said ‘oh you’re a cop - that means you’re a killer,” Theresia recalled. “I could not believe my ears.”
That’s when she began filming the outrageous exchange on her cell phone.
“Honestly?” an upset Theresia asked the customer service agent in the video.
“He might kill me,” the agent replied.
“Seriously?” she asked.
“He might kill me,” the customer service agent named “Gabriel” said again in the video.
“That is the most offensive thing ever and I will not deal with you,” Theresia told him. “Can you please call your boss down here? Thank you.”
“He might kill me,” the man said again, sitting down to have a drink and making no move to call for a supervisor.
When the Tirados refused to continue the exchange, the customer service agent appeared to attempt to goad them.
“He might kill me because he’s a police officer that called me ‘useless,’” he said before the video ended.
Theresia said that her seven-year-old son overhead the conversation between his parents and the customer service agent and became very nervous.
“The boys were sitting in the hallway close to the office playing on their iPads,” the mother explained. “My oldest son got so nervous that he called my sister because ‘a man was yelling at mommy and daddy.’”
“Mind you, we were in Memphis and she was in New Jersey and it was like 1:30 in the morning at this point,” Theresia told Blue Lives Matter.
The mother is furious that her children overheard the American Airlines agent saying such hateful things about their father’s profession.
“I tend to keep my kids in a bubble when it comes to the hatred towards law-enforcement,” Theresia explained. “I never want them to be nervous of daddy going to work and that man took this away from us. It’s so sad.”
She said her husband filed complaints with other representatives of the airline that night and the following morning, and they continued on their trip without incident.
They also completed an American Airlines satisfaction survey they received a couple of days later but received no follow up.
Theresia didn’t post the video to Twitter until May 1 – 11 days after the initial incident – because she wanted to give the airline an opportunity to make it right. But they didn’t.
It wasn’t until their agent’s hateful rhetoric was posted to social media that the Tirados were able to get any response from American Airlines.
Theresia said they heard from the airline the same day she posted the video on Twitter.
“They just took our statements about the trip and said they would get back to us,” she told Blue Lives Matter. “They said that his actions are not something they stand by.”
Theresia said that she and her husband aren’t the type of people who usually make a big deal over a customer service problem, but they needed the airline to acknowledge that “it’s not okay that it happened.”
“It’s sad that you hear and read about all of this craziness with the hatred of cops but to experience it is even more heartbreaking,” she said.
Blue Lives Matter reached out to American Airlines and received a fast response.
“We apologize to the Tirados regarding the interaction they had with an Envoy team member at MEM during their travels last month. What we see in the video is extremely concerning: In our culture, every interaction with a customer or team member should be grounded in respect. That’s not what we saw here,” American Airlines Spokeswoman Leslie Scott said in an email.
“As soon as we became aware of the issue, we reached out to Mrs. Tirado directly to let her know that we take this very seriously. We have spoken to both Officer and Mrs. Tirado and have assured them that we are taking steps to make things right with them and ensure this doesn’t happen again,” Scott said.
She told Blue Lives Matter that American Airlines does not consider the problem handled. She said they are investigating and plan to stay in contact with the Tirado family until the matter is resolved.
“American Airlines is a strong supporter of law enforcement organizations throughout the communities we serve,” Scott told Blue Lives Matter. “We recognize the important role that law enforcement officers play in society as a whole and we work closely at all of our airports with law enforcement who we consider our partners in running a safe operation.”
American Airlines contacted the Tirados on Thursday afternoon with what Theresia called a "curious" response to the situation.
"They said they will be implementing more training to their employees," she said.
The busy working mother said she and her husband were satisfied with the response from the airline and that all they wanted to do was get back to "real life."
Watch the interaction between the airline’s customer service agent and the law enforcement family in the video below: