Passenger Sues American Airlines After Flight Attendant Videos Teen Girl In 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 trip from Charlotte to Boston.

The girl took a photo of what’s apparently the flight attendant’s iPhone stuck to the toilet in the lavatory with maintenance stickers.

Credit: Lewis & Llewellyn LLP

Now her family is suing and claims that American allowed the crewmember to erase the evidence.

The flight attendant apparently hasn’t worked a trip since the incident but is still employed by the airline and was not arrested. According to the FBI, there was no arrest because “by the time they searched his phone, they could not find any incriminating photo or video on it.” The suit accuses the airline of failing “to take immediate actions after the incident.”

The lawsuit says the airline made the situation worse for the teen by “not immediately confiscating the flight attendant’s phone and not immediately notifying the pilots” and “allowed the flight attendant to destroy evidence.”

The court papers allege that the accused attendant “had ample time to delete or hide on his phone, any and all incriminating images or videos on his phone during that second half of the flight, when he had complete access to his phone.”

The family says that they have “not heard a single thing from American Airlines” since the flight. “They haven’t checked in on their daughter’s well-being. They haven’t reached out to them. Nothing.” While that seems heartless and disinterested, it may have been the advice of their counsel facing a potential (and now actual) lawsuit.

According to American Airlines at the time of the incident,

American Airlines flight 1441 from Charlotte (CLT) to Boston (BOS) was met by law enforcement upon arrival. We take this matter very seriously and are fully cooperating with law enforcement in their investigation, as safety and security are our highest priorities

About a month ago a flight attendant was caught taking video up a passenger’s skirt on board Aeromexcio flight 520 from Mexico City to Cancun. He slid his phone across the galley floor, while pretending to check the drawer of a galley beverage cart.

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. Although confiscating the evidence is not a usually recommended procedure, the girl should have taken the offending phone because it is too easy to turn the situation into a he said, she said type of situation, what has happened now. It would be interesting to see the crew come and harass the girl and her family for such a situation. Maintaining possession of the evidence may mean lying about having it. Since the crew has no legal right to search the passengers, police would have to be called at the landing and would have to maintain control of the evidence for a serious felony investigation. If possible, copying what was recorded to another phone would be also a good idea. Uploading it to a safe location would also help. Maybe taking your cell phone to the lavatory with you is a good idea.

  2. @jns Or washing the phone in the sink, claiming that she was trying to help and washing bacteria from the part of the phone not covered by the sticker and exposed to the toilet environment.

    The family was not harmed because the girl did not take off her pants to use the toilet.

  3. @derek. So derek, please explain—in your universe—how an attempt to commit a crime does not harm anyone as long as the intended victim manages to get away?

  4. Hope they win big. I normally oppose lawsuits such as this but airlines know in most instances they can get away with anything and face no repercussions. The family hasn’t heard anything because the airline really doesn’t care. One of the primary reasons our airlines rank so poorly in worldwide rankings. Even our “premium” airline isn’t even in the top 20.

  5. What action could have been taken inflight? If the girl reported the incident to another flight attendant it’s likely the offending F/A would become aware and instantly erase it off his phone. The crew did what they should do- have the police meet the flight. And my understanding is that police have the ability to access even deleted data and photos from a cellphone.

  6. @JimC
    What should have happened was the FA it was reported to should have gone straight to the captain who could have taken control of the phone. We’re told the captain has absolute authority over the plane when the door closes. But likely the FA it was reported to would have warned the other FA not really caring a crime had been committed. As far as law enforcement recovering deleted data that’s easier said than done. We’ve got a local case where someone destroyed their phone to cover up a video of a crime. It is thought the video was on the Cloud. A year later no judge has issued an order to jail the person who refuses to to give their Cloud ID. Just look and the terrorist attack in San Bernardino. The FBI begged Apple for a back door to unlock one of the dead terrorist IPhone. Apple refused.

  7. @H2oman- but the phone wasn’t destroyed. The was as much a failure of the police. And, it appears the girl was never filmed as she detected the phone as soon as she entered the lav. And how did she know that it was a F/A’s phone? There are a lot of unanswered questions here.

  8. @JimC
    The original news reports told how they knew that it was the FA’s phone. Doesn’t matter if the phone was destroyed or not unless the person unlocks the phone there’s a little that law enforcement can do unless a judge will agree to speculatively force the owner to unlock it. To recover deleted files from my phone (especially a IPhone) requires CIA level decryption. That’s why the FBI begged apple for a back door. There’s simply more the airline and staff could have done. But there’s no accountability for US-based airlines. That’s why I hope the family is successful.

  9. @Derek

    Your lack of moral clarity and basic decency is beyond stunning. I shudder to think about the character of a ‘man’ who not only thinks the thought — but puts it in writing without the slightest hesitation. You sound like a lawyer (not a compliment). Separating legality from ethics is a very slippery slope.

  10. What does it mean that the flight attendant hasn’t worked but is still employed by the airline? FAs only get paid for the time they are actually working a flight after the door closes.

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