Two Southwest pilots live streamed video from a plane's bathroom to the cockpit, flight attendants' lawsuit alleges

Article Image

A Southwest Airlines flight attendant says two pilots live streamed video from a hidden camera in a commercial airliner's lavatory to an iPad in the cockpit, a lawsuit says.

Posted: Oct 28, 2019 9:59 AM
Updated: Oct 28, 2019 9:15 PM


A Southwest Airlines flight attendant says two pilots live streamed video from a hidden camera in a commercial airliner's lavatory to an iPad in the cockpit, a lawsuit says.

The alleged incident happened February 27, 2017, while Renee Steinaker was working on Flight 1088 from Pittsburgh to Phoenix, according to the complaint that Steinaker and her husband, David Steinaker, filed against the airline and the pilots.

About two and a half hours into the flight, Capt. Terry Graham asked for a flight attendant to come to the cockpit so that he could leave to use the restroom, the complaint says. Airline policy requires that two crew members are in the cockpit at all times, the complaint says.

After Steinaker arrived and Graham left, Steinaker spotted an iPad in the plane's cockpit that appeared to be streaming live video of the pilot inside an airplane lavatory, the lawsuit said.

When the flight attendant asked the co-pilot, Ryan Russell, whether the iPad was streaming video from the lavatory, he said the camera was part of a 'new security and top secret security measure that had been installed in the lavatories of all Southwest Airlines' 737-800 planes,' the document alleges.

Russell asked her not to tell anyone about the cameras because they were on the 'downlow,' the suit says.

Pilots, airline respond

In their written response to the complaint, Graham and Russell admit Graham's iPad was located in the cockpit and that Steinaker asked if it was live streaming from the bathroom. But the pilots deny the other allegations or say they don't have sufficient knowledge to respond.

CNN has reached out to the attorneys representing Russell and Graham.

In its written response, Southwest denied Graham or Russell 'intentionally invaded the privacy of Plaintiff Renee Steinaker on Southwest Airlines flight 1088 by installing, viewing, watching, recording and/or playing recordings of plaintiff while she was using the forward lavatory's toilet.'

Southwest Airlines told CNN it would 'vigorously defend the lawsuit,' adding that officials investigated the allegation two years ago and found that there was 'never a camera in the lavatory.' Without elaborating, the airline said: 'The incident was an inappropriate attempt at humor which the company did not condone.'

'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,' a spokesperson told CNN.

The lawsuit was filed in Maricopa County, Arizona, but has been moved to US District Court in Arizona. The Steinakers are suing the airline and the pilots for invasion of privacy, causing Renee Steinaker emotional distress, sexual harassment and retaliation. They are seeking at least $50,000 in damages.

Lawsuit says Southwest tried to silence attendants

Steinaker says she took a picture of the iPad with Graham's image in the lavatory, the lawsuit says, and showed it to the rest of the flight attendants. CNN has not seen the photo mentioned in the lawsuit.

The flight attendant says she was directed by a supervisor to keep the incident to herself because 'If this got out, if this went public, no one, I mean no one, would ever fly our airline again,' the lawsuit said.

After Steinaker and other flight attendants on Flight 1088 reported the incident to the airline's management, the lawsuit says, the airline tried to silence and intimidate them.

They were randomly tested for drug and alcohol and one of them had to do multiple drug tests in a 'very short period of time,' according to the lawsuit.

Steinaker's husband, David, who is also a flight attendant, was 'subjected to at least five performance audits in the course of a few months following the incident, when in his prior twenty-four (years) of service, he only had approximately three audits,' the lawsuit alleged.

In its written response, Southwest also denies those allegations about how the airline treated the Steinakers after the alleged incident.

Ronald Goldman, an attorney representing the Steinakers, said the pilots' behavior distracts crew members and compromises flight safety.

'The cockpit of a commercial airliner is not a playground for peeping toms,' Goldman told CNN. 'Every day that these two pilots are allowed to fly for the airline is another day that our client fears she will have to work with pilots she alleges have caused her significant harm.'

Goldman said Renee Steinaker has missed several days of work and became physically ill after worrying that she could have been watched and possibly recorded while using the bathroom.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 34211

Reported Deaths: 2125
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9761576
Lake3573186
Allen160069
Cass15877
St. Joseph126634
Elkhart126228
Hendricks116671
Hamilton115493
Johnson1097108
Madison58659
Porter53428
Bartholomew50834
Clark49741
LaPorte43023
Howard40428
Tippecanoe3933
Delaware38536
Jackson3821
Shelby37122
Hancock33127
Floyd31839
Boone31635
Morgan27824
Vanderburgh2662
Montgomery23817
White2338
Noble22821
Clinton2271
Decatur22431
Grant21022
Dubois1993
Harrison19422
Henry17211
Greene16924
Vigo1688
Dearborn16821
Monroe16712
Warrick16628
Lawrence15924
Miami1401
Putnam1367
Jennings1304
Kosciusko1271
Orange12622
Scott1193
Franklin1108
Ripley1086
Marshall1021
Carroll932
Daviess8516
Steuben832
Wayne785
Fayette777
Newton7710
Wabash772
LaGrange762
Jasper661
Washington521
Clay511
Jay500
Fulton491
Randolph473
Rush462
Pulaski460
Jefferson451
Whitley413
Starke393
DeKalb371
Sullivan351
Owen341
Brown331
Perry320
Wells310
Benton300
Knox280
Huntington272
Tipton251
Blackford252
Crawford240
Fountain212
Switzerland200
Spencer201
Parke170
Adams171
Posey160
Gibson152
Ohio130
Warren121
Martin110
Vermillion100
Union90
Pike60
Unassigned0167

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 35033

Reported Deaths: 2149
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin5773260
Cuyahoga4369226
Marion266028
Hamilton2642148
Lucas2241242
Pickaway205037
Mahoning1428174
Summit1390172
Butler87429
Columbiana74352
Stark72391
Lorain67859
Montgomery65616
Trumbull56948
Belmont42812
Warren36621
Miami35530
Tuscarawas3423
Ashtabula33834
Medina33723
Delaware33113
Portage32357
Lake30612
Wood28746
Geauga28232
Clark2776
Wayne27250
Fairfield2596
Licking24310
Allen21132
Mercer2107
Clermont2065
Richland1993
Erie17114
Darke16721
Madison1527
Washington11819
Crawford1144
Morrow1071
Greene1015
Ottawa9916
Putnam9114
Monroe7812
Auglaize733
Sandusky7311
Ross712
Hocking694
Jefferson672
Hardin600
Huron571
Williams541
Union511
Muskingum500
Hancock501
Clinton431
Shelby413
Wyandot402
Fulton400
Fayette400
Logan380
Coshocton380
Guernsey351
Preble351
Holmes341
Defiance332
Lawrence300
Carroll303
Brown281
Champaign271
Knox251
Highland231
Vinton212
Seneca202
Ashland200
Athens181
Perry181
Henry150
Scioto150
Paulding140
Jackson140
Harrison100
Adams91
Gallia91
Van Wert60
Pike60
Meigs60
Noble60
Morgan50
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 66°
Angola
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 63°
Huntington
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 68°
Decatur
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 66°
Van Wert
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 66°
Sun Continues Monday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events