American Airlines worker harassed woman via text after getting info off bag, lawsuit claims
“You are looking very gorgeous in that gray top today," one of the texts said. The texts continued during the flight after the passenger boarded the plane.
An American Airlines jet at Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport on Jan. 25, 2016. An American Airlines employee stole a passenger's contact info off her baggage and harassed her via text on her flight last April, a lawsuit claims.Susan Walsh / AP file
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An American Airlines employee stole a passenger's contact information off her baggage tag and repeatedly texted her before and during her flight, terrifying her, according to a lawsuit she filed against the airline.
“Hey, Ashley! How are you?” read a text from a number Ashley Barno did not recognize, sent to her while she was waiting to board a flight out of San Diego International Airport last April.
“The whole time I kept asking him, ‘Who are you? How do you know who I am? How’d you get my info?,’” Barno said to NBC San Diego.
He continued to text without revealing his name. “You are looking very gorgeous in that gray top today," one text said. He finally identified himself as Ahmad, an American Airlines employee.
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The texts revealing that the sender could see her continued after Barno boarded her flight, unnerving her even more.
“I am on board now. Are you going to Chicago too??” said one.
“Not ok! Not cool,” Barno responded. “Leave me alone.”
“Ok it’s up to you, but friendship with me will be very beneficial for you,” the person identifying themselves as “Ahmad" responded. “I can always give you good seats, access to the lounges, and free drinks.”
“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 said.
She flagged a flight attendant, who confirmed the texter was a fellow colleague. She was "furious" about his behavior, Barno said.
He was escorted off the plane when it landed in Chicago, and an American Airlines employee got in touch with Barno after the incident, but she said the airline stopped replying to her requests for more information. She wants to know if he was fired or disciplined.
She figured out that he got her name and number off her luggage tag on her carry-on bag.
She said the situation made her feel "naked in a public place.” She is suing American Airlines for negligent hiring, sexual harassment and other alleged wrongdoing. She's looking for answers and monetary compensation for her suffering.
A statement from American Airlines said the employee involved is no longer employed with the company.
"American Airlines takes the privacy and safety of our customers seriously. We investigated the allegations and took appropriate action," the statement said.
Elisha Fieldstadt is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.