Co-Pilot Sues Southwest Airlines After Captain Locks Cockpit Door, Exposes Himself

A Southwest Airlines pilot is suing her airline after the captain in charge of flight WN6607 from Philadelphia to Orlando on August 10, 2020 pleaded guilty “to dead-bolting the cockpit door during a flight and stripping naked in front of her.”

As she explains it, the flight was the first time she’d met the man. He said it was hire retirement flight (though he actually continued to fly for 3 more weeks). And he shared that there was “something he wanted to do” before he retired. And then…

She said he bolted the door so no flight attendant could enter. He then put the plane on autopilot, stripped off his clothes, began watching pornography on his laptop and committed a lewd act for 30 minutes while taking photos and videos of himself.

In his version of the story, she asked him if he wanted to do anything before he retired. That actually seems like a natural question – take a certain routing, make a special announcement – not an invitation to a ‘lewd act’. He says she told him to take his clothes off and that’s all he actually did. He says she “made sexual advances after he disrobed” and that he rejected her advances. She took photos of the incident – he said as part of the prank, she says to create a record of his harassment. At sentencing he called it all “a consensual prank” that went wrong.

But if that’s all that happened, she wouldn’t be suing the airline. She says she reported the incident to Southwest, that he had “an alleged history of sexual misconduct” and that the airlines didn’t take action against him while “managers disparaged her in memos.”

It took her 3 months to report the incident, she says because she’s been intimidated by superiors. The airline took no action since the pilot had already retired – so she went to the FBI. Southwest, she says, retaliated against her for doing so – grounding her for over three months and imposing sim training prior to her return to the cockpit – and sending a memo disparaging her to other pilots.

As for her union, she says they simply supported the pilot and sought to assist him in obtaining leniency.

According to Southwest Airlines,

Our corporate Culture is built upon treating others with mutual respect and dignity, and the events alleged in this situation are inconsistent with the behavior that we require of our Employees.

I should hope so! And neither is it consistent with the behavior they require when the airline’s pilots watch a livestream of passengers in the lavatory from inside the cockpit.

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. ordfreqflyer you got me wondering so I dug around the regulations. It looks like 60 days is the maximum the records have to be kept and that is only if the National Transportation Safety Board is involved. So presumably the CVR was wiped before she reported the alleged incident.

  2. Disgusting, especially since he ADMITTED he took his clothes off! As a “prank gone bad.” I’ll say!!!

    And putting a plane in auto-pilot to do so – not anyone I’d want to be around in the air nor on the ground!

  3. Disgusting behavior! He ADMITTED he took his clothes off “as a prank gone wrong!” I’ll say!

    While guys might think this was funny I venture women like myself don’t find it one bit funny.

    Maybe Southwest purposely directed feet so they didn’t have to get involved and just let the guy retire. Whatever the reason it’s pretty disgusting behavior, especially for a professional!

  4. ordfreqflyer,

    I believe the CVR gets recorded over after a finite amount of time…two hours. She would have had to report it that day at the end of the flight and the airline pull the CVR then and there. If the reporting was delayed by 3 months those recording were long gone.

    What drrichard says about the NTSB I think refers to investigations launched by the NTSB where the black boxes have been physically removed from the plane/retrieved from the crash site and is not applicable in day to day service where no investigation is involved and the boxes are still actively in use.

  5. Based on the flippant comments by males thinking it’s funny and all her fault, why she waited was likely due to just that attitude expressed here. Harassment to women in the workplace, especially in male dominated work environments, is all too common.

  6. Interesting that both the union AND SW (and her coworkers) aren’t backing her. Even in this legal environment. Even after the Me-Too movement . Even with the alleged video/pictured.

    Remember, there are always two sides. We heard from one (and don’t know her).

  7. Cockpit CVRs cannot be used for punitive purposes. Pilot unions have already fought and won that battle. They can only be used for accident and incident investigations. Even if there was still a recording, it could not be used.

  8. Not by the airline but there’s nothing in a union contract that could prevent law enforcement from using it. If they could get their hands on it on time before it’s recorded over. And that is a big big stretch…

  9. It is her fault she should have called the local police upon landing. Would have done it if it was a passenger. She failed to report a crime but waited for civil action

  10. It is her fault she should have called the local police upon landing. Would have done it if it was a passenger. She failed to report a crime but waited for civil action .

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