Ashley Barno says her stalker told her he was on the same flight as her–then begged her to join him in Chicago.
American Airlines is being sued by a woman who says she was harassed over the phone by an employee who’d taken her name and number from a baggage tag.
According to NBC News, the alleged stalking began in April last year. The plaintiff, Ashley Barno, says she was waiting to board a flight from San Diego International Airport when she received an unexpected text from an unknown number.
While the messages started off innocuous enough, their tone quickly changed, making Barno uncomfortable.
“Hey, Ashley! How are you?” the first text said.
“I’m good, thank you!” Barno replied. “Sorry, I’m not sure who this is.”
Barno’s uncertainty only seemed to encourage the texter, who went on to compliment Ashley’s appearance. When Barno asked how she knew the sender, he dodged the question. Again and again, Barno exchanged texts, asking who her unwelcome conversational partner really was.
“The whole time I kept asking him, ‘Who are you? How do you know who I am? How’d you get my info?’” Barno told NBC 7 in an interview.
Shortly after that, Barno told NBC, she received another message: “You are looking very gorgeous in that gray top today.” Barno, again in San Diego International Airport, began scanning the terminal for a familiar face. Then the sender told her who he was: “Ahmad,” an American Airlines employee.
And, as it so happened, he’d booked the same flight as her.
“I am on board now,” he wrote in a message. “Are you going to Chicago too???”
Ahmad then began asking whether she’d consider “joining” him. When Barno declined, “Ahmad” tried to persuade her with flight perks and privileges.
“Ok it’s up to you, but friendship will be very beneficial for you,” he wrote. “I can always give you good seats, access to the lounges, and free drinks.”
With “Ahmad” refusing to relent, Barno told a flight attendant about the messages. An American Airlines manager then confirmed that “Ahmad” was an employee, notifying authorities in Chicago. “Ahmad” was escorted off the plane shortly after it touched down.
While Barno told NBC 7 the American Airlines personnel aboard the Chicago-bound flight were “amazingly helpful,” she claims the company’s response since has been lackluster. It refused her requests for more information on how Ahmad was disciplined, as well as whether he had information on other passengers.
“He had too much information on people, and what he did was not OK,” Barno told NBC, adding that she’s since learned that “Ahmad” similarly harassed at least one other passenger.
Unable to reach a resolution with American Airlines alone, Barno filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging negligent hiring and sexual harassment.
“American Airlines did not do a sufficient job in hiring and supervising employees to keep its customers safe from sexual harassment and stalking,” states Barno’s lawsuit, filed in the San Diego division of California Superior Court.
“I tried for several months to work this out amicably,” Barno said, “but I think they didn’t take it seriously, and no one responded to me.”