American Airlines Says Don’t Blame Them If Flight Attendants Take Video Of Children Using The Lavatory

Back in September an American Airlines flight attendant was accused of filming a teen girl passenger in the lavatory using a hidden camera on a American’s flight 1441 from Charlotte to Boston.

The man first asked the teen girl to wait, went into the lavatory, and then directed her into the first class bathroom – where she noticed and took a photo of what’s apparently the flight attendant’s iPhone stuck to the toilet in the lavatory with maintenance stickers. According to the girl’s family, he went into the lavatory again once she’d left.

Credit: Lewis & Llewellyn LLP

The family is suing American, and claiming the airline allowed the crewmember to erase the evidence. As of December the flight attendant was still employed by American, but hadn’t worked a trip since the incident was reported. And according to the family, American didn’t even reach out to them after the flight to check on their daughter. (While that seems heartless and disinterested, it may have been the advice of their counsel in expectation of a lawsuit.)

The airline has now asked a court to dismiss the suit. American Airlines says that they are not responsible when the employees that they’ve selected, trained and put into a position of authority in the cabin abuse that position to create child pornography by filming teenage girls in the lavatory.

According to American they’re “not liable for acts or crimes of its employees” even during the course of their duties.

It turns out this wasn’t the first or even second time he’d done this. According to the FBI, which searched the crewmember’s iCloud accont, he’d “recorded a minor using the bathroom on a plane” four times already in 2023 before he was caught, capturing children “7, 9, 11 and 14 years old” on video. The Bureau also reportedly found several hundred “AI-generated child pornography images.” He’s been charged with possession of child pornography and attempted sexual exploitation of a minor.

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 »

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  1. AA is guilty. Award the family $10,000 in compensatory damages and $150 million in punitive damages for AA acting stupid.

  2. If they would only fly the world’s #1 premium airline…Delta would at least place Hollywood quality cameras in their lavs.

  3. Where’s the criminal charge? How about sue the actual person who committed the act? Oh yeah , because the employer has more money. Is the employer responsible for every crime an employee commits? If there was negligence on AAs part, like if they knew he was doing it and did nothing, then sure, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. AA allowed him to erase evidence? How so? He could have simply immediately deleted the files, how could AA have stopped that?

    This is a pure cash grab. Prosecute the perve, but trying to cash in is disgusting.

  4. @H2omen

    AA should refund the ticket price, end of story.
    FA should be in prison, fined, and $500,000 restitution to the victim.

  5. Seems people don’t want to hold a company responsible for their employees while on duty. I’m good with that as long as it is applied across the board. Cop shoots your kid by accident, the city isn’t liable. A tractor trailer runs over you, sue the driver and not the company. A pilot stoned on mushrooms cuts the engines off and slams your plane into the ground at 600 mph, you only get whatever you can recover from the pilots estate. Yeah, none of that is happening. All of us that have flown American in the past knows it needs to improve its hiring practices and crisis response. Nothing will do that better than a hit to the bottom line. And for everybody wondering why he hasn’t been fired it can be explained in one word. Union.

  6. Even the attempt to photograph, video or otherwise sexually exploit a child is a crime. This flight attendant also had 50 photos of an unaccompanied minor sleeping in their seat. I would really like to know how that went unnoticed by the rest of the crew. It was a huge clue something was not correct. Maybe American flight attendants should start paying more attention to what goes on in the cabin. And the airline is responsible for the illegal conduct of their employees while on the job. They are insured for this.

  7. @H2omen

    Examples given have severe flaws…
    Cop shoots your kid by accident, the city isn’t liable.
    **No, the city should be liable. If the cop shoots your kid as a hired killer, the city should not be liable.

    A tractor trailer runs over you, sue the driver and not the company.
    **No, the truck driver was performing company duty. The trucking company should be liable. If the truck driver hides a hidden camera in a rest stop, the trucking company should not be liable in a fair world.

    A pilot stoned on mushrooms cuts the engines off and slams your plane into the ground at 600 mph, you only get whatever you can recover from the pilots estate.
    **No, the pilot was performing his job very badly so the airline should be liable. If the pilot hides a camera in the lavatory, it is the pilot’s fault and not the company.

    American Airlines maybe needs to allow criminal records to be a part of hiring decisions but I believe some states ban that.

  8. @derek
    We can disagree and the courts will decide. Doesn’t affect me as I’m closing in on a decade without stepping foot on one of their planes, and I spend quite a bit on air travel every year. I will fly with a layover if the non-stop is on American. One solution would be to have AA flight attendants secure their phones when the doors close. But I would hate that for stockholders of Candy Crush.

  9. Standard boilerplate response, the lawyer who filed this was just hoping to get lucky. It looks bad, but is sort of required as part of the theater that goes with lawsuits. AA knows they’re going to have to settle, they just need to jump through some hoops before they get there.

    FWIW, those signs in the supermarket parking lot that say they’re not liable for damage from their carts – they’re just there in hopes it’ll stop someone from filing a claim. Of course they’re liable.

  10. I demand every Massachusetts voter be held liable for damages to the family of Mary Jo Kopechne. A Senator works for the people who elected them, right?

  11. @H2omen

    You examples show a fundamental ignorance that there is law involved here. There is well established legal guidelines on when employers can be held liable by employee acts. Your examples show a gross oversimplificaiton of the matter. There are nowhere near enough facts here to determine in this case whether AA should be liable.

    C_M – same to you. No – supermarkets are not automatically liable if their carts hit something. Unless you show some actual negligence on the part of the supermarket they will not be liable

  12. They are responsible because it happened on their airplane and was done by one of their employees. I wouldn’t expect punitive damages unless it can be shown that they were negligent in hiring this person, or failed to take steps after he was caught. As far as damages, I would assume that the person who saw the camera there did not expose herself to it, so it’s not clear how much damage there was. There was no doubt emotional distress though, and it’s not something that goes away quickly.

  13. @david – Your answer is just as incorrect as mine. I should have been more precise and said “potentially liable”. My more broad point was, you don’t get to avoid liability by simply claiming you aren’t. The signs in the parking lot have no force of law. A court determines liability, not the potential defendant. Otherwise, a sign at the front door would exempt them from all slip & fall suits from wet floors. It doesn’t work that way.

  14. If this had been any teacher, they’d be personally and criminally liable. And the employing district would have to pay any judgment. Further proof of the most powerful profession in the United States–their actions are even beyond court review, or so they say.

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