Did an American Airlines Flight Attendant Steal a Passenger’s iPhone & Post Selfies?

An American Airlines passenger reportedly got off her flight and realized she left her iPhone behind. She wanted to get back on the aircraft, but a flight attendant told her to continue down the jetway and and “she’d look and bring it to her.”

However the flight attendant is said to have claimed she couldn’t find the phone. Days later though the passenger says that selfies of the flight attendant began showing up in the passenger’s iCloud.

A friend of the passenger’s reached out to American’s Twitter team.

The twitter folks suggested filling out a lost and found form. While I’ve had great luck with American’s customer service via twitter that’s not their most brilliant suggestion under the claimed circumstances.

While initial reporting was that the passenger had not contacted American and it seemed that was a precursor to any investigation, an American spokesperson tells me,

We take these allegations very seriously, and our corporate security team continues to investigate this issue that allegedly occurred on Dec. 24, 2017. We are now in touch with the passenger directly.

However, the photos of our crew members do not match the selfie that was allegedly posted on the passengers iPhone.

The most dispositive first step does seem to be matching the photos to an actual employee of either American or one of their regional partners. The airline seems pretty confident that the passenger is mistaken about who is in the photos. While it seems that the phone was taken and used, they may have been quick to blame a flight attendant.

Matthew Klint offers detailed instructions to flight attendants — or anyone else, really — who wish to steal iPhones in the future to avoid this sort of embarrassment.

The situation reminds me of the security screener who stuck an iPad in his pants. One TSA agent was caught thanks to Apple’s tracking technology. Then there was the TSA agent who tried to sell a CNN camera on eBay. Perhaps the iphone thief was auditioning for a job with TSA.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. ‘dispositive’ is a word, or expression, rarely seen outside the arcane world of the law. Not really suited to an internet throw-away blog.

  2. Contrast that with how I recovered my lost phone in China – true story!

    Asiana Airlines does not have a lounge at Shanghai Airport (PVG) so they have their premium passengers use the Air China lounge. So we were there after disembarking TG662 from BKK and heading next to ICN on OZ368. Asiana personnel came through making a last boarding call for our flight and rushed us outta the lounge. I forgot my iPhone 7+ at the lounge and told Asiana personnel as I boarded the flight. They would not let me go back to retrieve the phone. I reported the phone missing then and there on PVG tarmac.

    Upon arriving at ICN, I tried in vein to have someone assure me that I will get my iPhone back to no avail. Asiana is headquartered at ICN. The phone with its memory is worth a grand but it’s open with no pass code and contains all my bank and loyalty program information. Again, had to board the flight to LAX without my phone. Aboard OZ202, I also reported my lost phone and again upon arrival at LAX on 1/15/18.

    On the morning of 1/18/18, had a knock on my door, lo and behold, FEDEX at the door with a package from Asiana LAX office that contained my iPhone!

    Now that’s what I call awesome customer service that AA and the rest of the mediocre airlines need learn.

  3. Grrwow!
    Cool hand on sexy kitten action.
    Rarely seen inside the arcade world of miles and points.

  4. @Kalboz… I have heard that about Korea in general, but I have heard China would be the country not likely to return the phone.
    Perhaps the home of Samsung and LG was not impressed with your old Apple.
    And even though it is annoying, password protect your devices… Computers, tablets, smart phones. And don’t bypass all of the physical security by downloading random apps and letting the young’ons play with them.

  5. Does this story add up? She was in the jetway and told she could not go in the plane to retrieve her phone.
    She had a friend contact AA. Via Twitter. She did not suspend the phone. Was it a prepaid device or a monthly billing?
    Were any calls made from the phone?
    Were other photos on her iCloud?

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