A Southwest Airlines flight attendant is suing her employer, alleging managers helped to cover for two pilots who were caught live-streaming footage from an onboard lavatory to an iPad mounted in the flight deck. The incident is said to have taken place in February 2017 and the claim was lodged at the Superior Court of Arizona in October 2018. The flight attendant recently won the right to pursue their claim.
Renee Steinaker, a Phoenix-based Southwest Airlines flight attendant has accused the airline of retaliation for reporting the incident, alleging that managers have tried to “silence and intimidate” all four flight attendants aboard flight 1088 in February 2017. Both Southwest Airlines and two airlines are also being sued for sexual harassment, causing emotional distress and invasion of privacy.
It all started on February 27th, 2017 when Steinaker was working a flight between Pittsburgh and Phoenix. During the flight, Steinaker was called to the flight deck because one of the pilots needed to use the lavatory – as is normal, at least two people have to be on the flight deck at any one time.
But when Steinaker entered the flight deck she claims she noticed an iPad mounted to the windshield which apparently showed live streaming from the forward lavatory. The First Officer even allegedly admitted the iPad was showing a live stream from a hidden camera in the lavatory – she claims he told her not to tell anyone because “they were on the down-low”.
While the pilots tried to convince Steinaker that the cameras were new and installed in every lavatory aboard Southwest Airlines, the captain then tried to hide the iPad from her view when Steinaker attempted to take a photo. Both pilots allegedly quickly left the plane on arrival in Phoenix, leaving a firearm unattended in the flight deck.
Yet rather than supporting the flight attendants, Steinaker claims Southwest Airlines attempted to coverup what had happened and encouraged the flight attendants who were onboard to keep quiet about what had happened. “If this got out, if this went public, no one, I mean no one, would ever fly our airline again,” one supervisor allegedly told Steinaker.
Southwest Airlines have allowed both pilots to continue flying. Perhaps unsurprisingly, both the pilots and Southwest Airlines deny the allegations made by the flight attendants.
In a statement, Southwest Airlines said of the allegations:
“The safety and security of our employees and customers is Southwest’s uncompromising priority. As such, Southwest does not place cameras in the lavatories of our aircraft. At this time, we have no other comment on the pending litigation.”