American Airlines Passenger Stranded In Antigua After Being Stalked By Pilot

This has to be one of the stranger experiences I’ve seen, even for American Airlines and even for 2021. Austin Barrington was flying from Baltimore to New York JFK and on to Antigua on Wednesday, November 3. And during his layover he was followed around the airport by an American Eagle pilot.

This is odd behavior for a pilot, even if the passenger had done something wrong. Write them up. Report them to law enforcement. But.. follow them around the airport yourself?

I reached out to the passenger after his tweet to see what I could uncover. I’ve come to learn that passengers aren’t always forthcoming about their own behavior so I poked and prodded for what he might have done to trigger the crew. His version of the story,

I was drinking a Red Bull and they said something to the pilot that had him walk back to my seat yelling before he got there. My Mouth and nose covered, and no words of any kind had been exchanged between me or the crew at this time. …So after he yelled, the flight attendant does like a 30s stare down with me.

I was a bit put off after that, and was reading with my legs crossed and she came by to say in her sweetest voice, to uncross my legs. I left my legs crossed. I assume that she whispered other things in the pilots ear due to this after we landed, causing him to say “I will follow you anywhere you go” and literally following me for half a mile before I evaded him by going up and then back down an escalator quickly. ..Mask over the nose for the entire flight besides maybe 5 total minutes of sipping my Red Bull and water.

According to the passenger, “No one said a single thing to me on the flight until he came up yelling. I was beyond shocked to have him following me around for over 5 minutes and across the airport. I definitely did not break any federal mandates, I’m absolutely sure the other passengers would attest to my wearing a mask for 98% of the flight.”

He admits that when he was told to ‘uncross his leg’ that he “made a comment along the lines of ‘oh is that for my safety too’ though I wonder if his crossed leg was blocking the aisle. And I do wonder if, while he wore a mask, maybe it was below his nose?

He shared “the rest of the video” since he’d only offered a snippet on twitter.

You might have thought this was the end of the story. He flew to Antigua to attend a wedding. He received his check-in email 24 hours prior to his return like normal. Then when he arrived at the airport on Sunday he was told he couldn’t fly. He was banned from travel on American Airlines, and says that he does not know why he was stranded in Antigua.

I reached out to American. According to a spokesperson,

Our team is in contact with the customer regarding his experience and our Corporate Security team is reviewing.

Ultimately the passenger’s only defense to the airline’s banning decision was his recording – a recording which would have violated the airline’s rules, taking place in terminal areas that they control. Maybe he sassed a flight attendant, or maybe he even had a mask beneath his nose, but being followed through the terminal by a pilot is… bizarre.

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, 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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. There just has to be more to this than what we know from reading here. I find it odd that a FA would tell someone to uncross their legs unless there was aisle blocking issue as mentioned. The whole thing is odd, and if the captain was following him for a legitimate reason….could there be??, then he should be forthcoming with that. Right now, leaving it as it is, I don’t want this guy flying me anywhere, and I don’t think I want to sit next to the guy posting either. Something’s not right about any of this….

  2. Trying to come up with a reason the management and employees are running a concerted effort to completely destroy this airline. There is no way this many occurrences happen in such a short time. (Yes there is a possibility the passenger did or said something but the actions by the pilot would have been much different and history says police would have been at the gate.)

  3. Ray, you make an excellent point, about police involvement if what this person did was so terrible and concerning. So where were they we wonder??? And it is beyond comprehension as well that management and employees are anxious to “destroy” the airline. But all of this negative publicity and nastiness make me want to rid myself of what little stock I have literally in the company. I bought it decades ago and have hung tight, hoping for the silver bird to rise like the phoenix again. In the past they have given me nothing but good service, been very caring, kind. A sad situation to be sure and I hope we learn the details to put this one to rest.

  4. Indeed, very strange behavior by both, leaving many unanswered questions. Was the video a hoax? If so, for what purpose. Certainly AA could identify the “pilot”. If real, why did not only the pilot, but also the passenger not find a police officer? When the passenger escaped, why did the pilot not then seek authorities to find him.. What were the pilot’s intentions? And to what end? The passenger stopped several times, and the pilot did nothing?
    As for filming against airline policy. I would like some clarification. Why would an airline have control over that in an airline terminal? And is it not a first amendment right to film in a public area?

    You said when he attempted to board his next flight, he was denied. Was he given a reason? Can you be denied without a reason? Why was airport security not then called?

    There has to be more to this story. I wish someone would get to the bottom and let us know.

  5. This guy clearly implies that the pilot is a pervert. Yet the pilot is almost certainly following the guy because of a violation reported by a flight attendant. Would the pilot have a good defamation case?

  6. It is wrong to give this story more attention than it deserves. We don’t know what’s going on here, and the airline legally can’t tell us. I know you’re looking for clicks, but use some judgment. Your readers don’t need this kind of “information.”

  7. But Tommyleo why did the pilot follow him for so long?
    Was he waiting for the right time to make a citizens arrest?
    Why didn’t the pilot call the police if the “violation ” was so bad?
    I’ve never heard of this kind of behavior before.
    Anyone out there ever been followed by a pilot like this?

  8. I don’t even know what I read! This is a hot mess of incompleteness. Ugh, I wish things could be reported once all the details are known.

  9. I speculate there’s more to it than the passenger stated but *regardless* of whether that’s the case the pilot’s behavior is almost inexplicable and that’s the crazy thing here. You write up the complaint. If it’s egregious you contact law enforcement. You do not follow a passenger around the terminal. Watch the second video.

  10. AA crews can also be angry, rude and belligerent.

    While there have been violent passenger incidents, many may be escalated by the employees.

    Videos are important to validate abusive incidents caused by the airline employees and policies. Masking is not the only problem.
    Air crews can also be bullies.

  11. A few takeaways. The fact that the passenger contacted authorities after, and not the crew, leads me to believe that he actually didn’t do anything. If he was truly violating anything it would be the other way around. Further, he is encouraging the press and AA to contact other passengers to confirm, not exactly the request of a person who did anything.

    The request to “uncross your legs” is bizarre. The best I can figure is, like most of us here who are tall, if on the aisle and we cross a leg a foot might dangle in the aisle. So what. The FA might have brushed against it and got somehow triggered that the passenger was touching him/her. I have never had this issue before though, and I am a dangler when sitting on the aisle. The most I get is a pleasant warning from the FA when the cart comes through to watch my foot. That’s it. Simple.

    This is completely crazy. Nothing like an unhinged pilot chasing around a passenger in the airport. Kinda like that movie with Russell Crowe. I will be curious to know the final outcome of this.

  12. Hope his Airline disciplines this Captain and FA. Unstable and responsible for lives of others.
    Too bad the Poster dud not look for Police.

  13. My theory – passenger’s foot brushed female FA. She told the captain who felt the need to “protect” his FA. People do crazy things in the heat of the moment

  14. Of course there is more to this story. But it’s hard to imagine a scenario that accounts for the very strange behavior of that pilot.

  15. Obviously we don’t know what actually happened on the plane- but there is no excuse for that pilot to be following a passenger around an airport, ever. If the passenger actually did something to break a flight rule, then call the police. This is really bizarre behavior by that pilot.

  16. Anyone else think this pilot was a Larry David doppelganger? I was expecting to see the stare-down.

  17. Pilots are required to have annual medicals. Based on this behaviour this pilot would not pass the psychiatric component of the exam.

  18. And AA wonders why they have more inflight incidents?

    This is the definition of escalation. It appears the pilot is hoping for a confrontation to justify additional action against the passenger. Had the passenger been belligerent it would have been a different headline. But he clearly wasn’t.

    The pilot has the manifest, so he knows the identity of the passenger to ban him if justified. And if he thought the kid was a threat then he clearly dropped the ball not having the flight met by LEO.

    So the only logical conclusion is that the pilot wanted an escalation. Don’t care what the passenger did prior once the pilot crosses that line. Just like LEO we expect better from those who have near absolute power over us. We grant them that authority and have the right to expect them to act responsibly.

    Abuse of power dynamics is never OK.

  19. 00m19s Passenger: Please do not follow me into the restroom. Are you going to?
    00m22s Pilot: No, I’m not going to follow you in the restroom, go in the restroom.

    While this is a truly strange situation, the whole restroom part of it appears to be false. The passenger must have misheard or exaggerated.

  20. Person posting was actually that Captain’s.F/O on the inbound trip. Captain was probably displeased with his ✔ list responces Guys like that are out there just my$ .02

  21. That’s pretty bizarre. Why is that guy flying a plane and putting us at risk of one of his breakdowns!!

  22. I would think all airline boarding areas, planes, and airport terminal would have good video cameras these days with all the issues.

  23. Captain states he was noncompliant. He was probably following to see if he was getting on another connection and identify him so they could no fly him which is what happened.

  24. Passengers embellish ALL THE TIME. Same as Influencers and Tik Tocers – most of it is made up.

  25. The only think I can think of here is that the pax in question must have said something inappropriate or threatening to the FA causing the pilot to be concerned about the safety of his crew. However his response was very immature and inappropriate as well. If the pax was totally in the clear he could have gone to a gate agent or supervisor for help.

    However there ARE done weird pilots out there. At some airlines more than others so who knows?

  26. Wait, the pilot on a US-based airline LEFT THE COCKPIT to confront a passenger? That seems like it not only defeats the purpose of all those post-9/11 cockpit security rules, but creates a greater risk.

    And then the fact that, even with current airline staffing levels, the pilot decided that *this* was a better use of his time than contacting security, law enforcement, or even the airline? And if he really thought the passenger was a safety risk while he was on the aircraft and/or while it was in flight, how would he think it’d be helped by following and threatening him *after* he disembarked?

    So, yeah, maybe the passenger just was obnoxious with poor etiquette (that’s the kind of thing that flight attendants will ask once about and leave, so long as it’s not causing a confrontation with other passengers) or maybe not. But, regardless of where the passenger’s behavior fell from “the pilot didn’t like his face” to “direct threat to everyone’s safety” there’s just no scenario that I can imagine where the pilot’s behavior would’ve been rational or using good judgement.

  27. Why is everyone being so harsh towards the pilot? He kept saying that the passenger was not complaint with federal rules so he probably had his mask below his nose. I say that because the passenger was quick to point out that he was drinking a Red Bull but somehow had his mask over his mouth and nose at the same time.
    The passenger said that he was going to find the police and the pilot said that he wished that he would. If the passenger was innocent then he would have definitely looked for the police. I’m sure the pilot was “following” him so that he wouldn’t get away. Too many self-entitled brats nowadays that want to video things and then edit them to make them look innocent . Hopefully he will be banned from flying completely.

  28. Regardless of the details, a pilot’s authority ends once a passenger is off the plane. If the pilot honestly believes the passenger violated a rule or his authority, the pilot should have requested police meet the flight/passenger. A pilot has no authority at all in the terminal, best a pilot can do is alert police. This pilot was wrong. And when the pilot reached up to block the recording, if he touched the passenger, that would be assault. If I was in a similar situation, I’d walk right up to a police officer or armed military personnel and state that the pilot was stalking me. I suspect the pilot (psychotic coward) would disappear before I even finished that utterance. Given these videos, it’s reprehensible for American to back up this pilot.

  29. Wait, this all seems so bazaar, has anyone heard from AA or have they made any statement? Is this person really a pilot with AA? Has he been identified?
    It looks like he is a AA employee because of the badge he has on, there has been imposters before. Can anyone shed more light on his identity?

  30. This guy was definitely not an AA pilot. An AA pilot would never follow someone thru the terminal unless he was being paid double time.

  31. Creepy. If the passenger had really dine something in violation, security would have been called. Not a pilot stalker. Weird.

  32. This is the danger of allowing airline employees to arbitrarily and capriciously ban anyone they please on the airline. I thought society was learning their lesson with blindly trusting the police, however, they fail to see that all authority figures from teachers to flight attendants often abuse their power and lie just the same.

    It’s time for cameras in the aisles on planes in the same way cabs have them. The word of flight attendants and pilots is increasingly dog sht.


    A pilot doesn’t even have absolute authority on the plane. He or she is not supposed to be able to violate rights of passengers just because the pilot is in charge of flight safety or the flight. If a pilot is lying about a passenger in his or her official capacity over flight safety, he should have criminal charges filed against him or her.

    Flight attendants and pilots nearly always get away with their abuse because nothing happens to them. The public can’t rely on a corrupted and crooked system to handle things.

  33. Thank you GREGG! Yes, Lisa, your comment was inappropriate. We (commentors) were getting along fine until you showed up. I could’ve said the same thing about the deranged 45th prez (look up who that was) walking around deciding who was loyal and who was bad.
    Talk about a man untethered to reality! In fact, that AA contractor airline pilot was doing a great trump impression: oh look, I’ve found a conspirator planning a conspiracy against the bloated orange one. Please just go away Lisa. Your dementia addled man lost. Get over it. If you don’t have a relevant intelligent comments to make, ZIP IT! Have a nice day!

  34. This IS bizarre behavior! Security should have met the flight, and I simply CANNOT figure this one out!?!?

  35. This is odd. Why a pilot would follow a passenger, I don’t think we would get a reasonable answer. Why not just alert law enforcement who can question the passenger upon arrival instead of acting like some weirdo. Maybe the passenger did do something, maybe he didn’t. Either way I don’t he will tell us what happened on that plane.

  36. Hmmm…there’s a reason a pilot that age is flying regionals, and we may be seeing it. Poor decision making?

  37. Redbull and water?

    Sure there wasn’t some vodka hidden near the legs?

    No drinky personal alcohol while on board aircraft per FAA..??

  38. It’s generally a rule for a pilot to not interact with a problem passenger. Pilots should call for a station representative trained to handle passenger problems. It’s really weird to be in the terminal. Also, most pilots would be off getting a bite, not strolling around like this guy. I know from experience some loons make it to the job of airline pilot, but they seem to eventually get fired. Check with his co-pilot’s…I bet he’s on their avoid list.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *