A San Diego woman is suing American Airlines after an employee got her name, cellphone number and address from her carry-on luggage tag and then texted her more than 100 times.
Ashley Barno said the mystery texter also sent her sexually suggestive images. As a result, she experienced lasting emotional distress that made her fear for her safety.
Last April, Barno was waiting to board a flight to Chicago when she got a text message from an unknown caller, she told NBC San Diego.
It read, “Hey, Ashley! How are you?” and Ashley responded, “I’m good, thank you!” before adding, “Sorry. I’m not sure who this is.”
Barno got nervous as the texts continued and become increasingly creepy.
“BTW I must tell you that you are gorgeous,” the unknown texter wrote, followed by: “You are looking very gorgeous in that gray top today.”
Barno then looked around the boarding area to see if she knew anyone, and that’s when the mystery texter identified himself as “Ahmad.”
He said he worked for American Airlines.
Things got even more unnerving after Barno boarded the plane and got this message from “Ahmad”: “I am on board now. Are you going to Chicago too??”
Barno told him to leave her alone, but he refused to take the hint, according to NBC News. Instead, he sent a note suggesting “friendship with me will be very beneficial for you.”
The texter promised Barno, “I can always give you good seats, access to the lounges and free flights too.”
Barno said she was freaked out, especially since she was on an enclosed plane with a stalker.
Barno flagged down a flight attendant and told her about the messages she was receiving from a man on the plane.
The attendant made sure Barno wasn’t harassed further.
When the plane landed at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, security guards escorted the man off the flight, according to The Washington Post.
Barno’s attorney Joe Samo said the flight attendant told Barno that this wasn’t “the first time he’s done something like this.”
Barno is now suing American Airlines for negligent hiring, sexual harassment and stalking.
Her complaint, which was filed last week in a San Diego division of California Superior Court, alleges that “American Airlines did not do a sufficient job in hiring and supervising employees to keep its customers safe from sexual harassment and stalking.”
Barno said she and Samo tried to contact American Airlines for months, hoping for assurances that the airline had disciplined the man and taken steps to make sure it didn’t happen to someone else.
However, she never heard back, according to Samo.
“That added a lot of insult to injury,” he told the Post.
American Airlines spokesman Joshua Freed told the newspaper that the accused creepy texter was employed by American at the time of the alleged harassment but wasn’t on duty.
In addition, Freed said, the man is no longer employed by the airline.
“American Airlines takes the privacy and safety of our customers seriously. We investigated the allegations and took appropriate action.”
Samo thinks the airline is minimizing his client’s experience.
“A victim can be shaken up and traumatized for months after an event. It seems to us that American Airlines felt the situation was resolved when she returned safely back to San Diego,” Samo told the New York Daily News. “I don’t believe they realized the emotional effect would last much longer than the threat of her physical safety,” he said.