Woman ‘scared’ by creepy in-flight texts
A WOMAN is suing American Airlines over a disturbing encounter with an employee who she said took her phone number from her luggage tag and send her a barrage of creepy texts.
Ashley Barno said the first text message from an unfamiliar number came as she was waiting for her flight to Chicago at San Diego International Airport in April last year.
"Hey Ashley! How are you?" the text read, NBC 7 reported.
"I'm good, thank you!" Ms Barno replied before adding, "Sorry, I don't know who this is."
Another message flashed on her iPhone that read: "Btw I must tell you that you are gorgeous!"
Ms Barno said she felt increasingly uncomfortable as the anonymous sender didn't reveal who they were but continued to message her, saying they "just saw you at the airport" and that she was "looking very gorgeous in grey top (sic) today!"
"The whole time I kept asking him, 'Who are you? How do you know who I am? How'd you get my info?'" Ms Barno told NBC 7.
Eventually, the texter identified himself as "Ahmad" and said he worked for American Airlines.
But things became more unsettling when Ms Barno boarded the plane to Chicago and "Ahmad" continued to message her, saying he was on the plane, too.
"Just knowing that he knew what I looked like, and that we were in an enclosed plane and that there's no way out, like really, really scared me," Ms Barno said.
In the series of texts that followed "Ahmad" tried to get Ms Barno to take the free seat next to him, a couple rows ahead of where she was sitting.
"Will you join me?" he wrote. "I really like you!! Come on join me!!"
During the text exchange, "Ahmad" initially told Ms Barno she'd given him her number, but when she challenged it, he admitted he "got it from ur bagtag (sic)".
"Not ok! Not cool," Ms Barno responded. "Leave me alone."
"Ok it's up to you, but friendship with me will be very beneficial for you," the man responded.
"I can always give you good seats, access to the lounges, and free drinks."
Ms Barno said she flagged down a flight attendant and in tears, told her what was happening.
The "amazingly helpful" flight attendant ensured Ms Barno sat further away and checked in on her during the flight. But the messages from "Ahmad" continued another three-and-a-half hours later, The Washington Post reported.
When the plane landed in Chicago, airline managers appeared to escort "Ahmad" off the plane, Ms Barno said.
"I got off the plane, too," she told NBC 7. "I called my sister, and I was crying profusely because I just felt … I mean, the best way to describe it was, I felt naked in a public place."
Ms Barno said an American Airlines worker contacted her after the incident but she was unable to get more information about the incident and whether "Ahmad" had been fired.
Frustrated by the company's response, Ms Barno said she was taking American Airlines to court for negligent hiring, sexual harassment and other alleged wrongdoing.
"I tried for several months to work this out amicably, but I think they didn't take it seriously, and no one responded to me," she said.
The lawsuit said eight months later, Ms Barno had trouble sleeping, eating and socialising.
"We're doing this to send a message to big corporations that this behaviour is not acceptable," Ms Barno's lawyer Joe Samo told NBC 7.
"They have to train their employees better and take better precautions to make sure these things don't happen again."
In a statement, an American Airlines spokesperson told NBC 7: "American Airlines takes the privacy and safety of our customers very seriously. While we can't discuss details about this individual case, we investigated the allegations and took appropriate action."