This entire thread painfully reminds me of John Updaike's A&P.
Personally, I hate the calls for million dollar lawsuits against AA. I've said this before, and I'll likely say this a hundred times over, people are people, and people will always do their own thing on or off their employer's time. In this case, the flight attendant made a judgement call, and whether or not one wishes to argue if it was the right one or not, human nature dictates people still make judgement calls. AA can go back in to their policies and clarify and add more detail, but at the end of the day, another FA down the road would still just as likely interpret the policy differently than the FA next to them, and we'd be having this same discussion again.
I know we can all sit here and lay claim, that if the flight attendant is a company employee, they represent the values and culture of the airline, and therefore it is ultimately the airliner's fault; however, the day flight attendants are replaced by robots, or are implanted with little tiny AI chips powered by airliner supercomputers to either control thought, or suppress anything outside of the airline's control, people will still use their own thought processes to carryout their tasks.
Shame that in this case, there was no Sammy to stand up for the pax.
Now get the hell off of my lawn your dang kids!