The Washington Post reports that a woman has filed a lawsuit against American Airlines over allegations of negligent hiring, sexual harassment, and stalking after she received over 100 texts from an employee who obtained her phone number from her bag tag and proceeded to contact her before and during the flight.
The incident started while Ashley Barno was waiting to board her Chicago-bound flight out of San Diego International Airport last April. "Hey, Ashley! How are you?," the first text read. Despite being unaware of who the sender was, Barno responded, saying she was "good," but she also inquired about the unknown person's identity. Their interaction suddenly took a bizarre and scary turn with the very next text: "Btw I must tell you that you are gorgeous!"
When Barno asked again for the sender's name, she received a text which read, "You guess!!" The responses became more terrifying when she realized that this person knew what she was wearing, and was on the same flight as her. "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," Barno recalled, per NBC San Diego.
Barno eventually found out that he was an American Airlines employee named "Ahmad," and he got her number from the tag on her luggage. After getting a text about the "good seats, access to the lounges, and free drinks" she could get from him while aboard the plane, she reached out to a flight attendant, who she said was "amazingly helpful" and "furious" over his behavior.
When the flight landed at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, security guards were there to escort the man off the plane. Barno was also informed that this wasn't the first time Ahmad did this to a passenger. After trying for several months to resolve this matter privately, Barno hired a lawyer. "We're doing this to send a message to big corporations that this behavior is not acceptable," her attorney Joe Samo said. "They have to train their employees better and take better precautions to make sure these things don’t happen again."
American Airlines said "Ahmad" is no longer employed by them. Meanwhile, Barno has since taken the advice of her helpful flight attendant, who told her that if there's no tag on the luggage, the airlines will just try and figure out the owner's information by opening the bag.