A series of text messages that got progressively more unnerving has spurred the recipient to sue American Airlines.
Ashley Barno says she received the texts from an American employee named “Ahmad,” who not only texted her while she was waiting for a flight at San Diego International Airport but again when she boarded the plane to Chicago.
“You are looking very gorgeous in that gray top today.”
“I am on board now. Are you going to Chicago too??”
That was more than enough for Barno, who filed suit against American Airlines for negligent hiring, sexual harassment and other alleged wrongdoing, according to NBC 7 San Diego.
The sender eventually identified himself in a text as “Ahmad” and told Barno he worked for the airline. Barno complained to the airline and asked for updates on the incident, but received no reply. That prompted her to hire an attorney.
“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,” Barno said.
The incident started when she received a seemingly innocuous text saying “Hey, Ashley! How are you?” Barno replied that she was good but didn’t recognize the number so she asked who the sender was.
The man did not reply immediately but kept sending her texts, including the two that made her realize he was watching her. When he admitted he was an airline employee, Barno told him to leave her alone. He replied: “Ok it’s up to you, but friendship with me will be very beneficial for you. I can always give you good seats, access to the lounges, and free drinks.”
Barno then asked another flight attendant for help, and that person apparently contacted American Airlines management because “Ahmad” was escorted off the plane by airline officials when it landed in Chicago.
According to NBC 7, Barno said she learned that “Ahmad” had gotten her name, cell phone number, and address from the luggage tag on her carry-on bag. Barno now assumes he was sitting next to or near her and copied that information or took a photo of her baggage tag, which did not have a flap that covered her personal information.
“We’re doing this to send a message to big corporations that this behavior is not acceptable,” attorney Joe Samo said. “They have to train their employees better and take better precautions to make sure these things don’t happen again.”
In response to a request for comment on the incident and Barno’s lawsuit, 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.”
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