Caught on Camera

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Airplane antics gone wrong

Traveling in an airplane is scary enough, without the thought of your flight crew spying on you. In a February 2017 flight, embarking from Pittsburgh to Phoenix, a Southwest Airlines flight attendant discovered an iPad in the cockpit.  The iPad was live streaming a video of the other pilot using the bathroom.  The flight attendant, Renee Steinaker, took out her personal cell phone to photograph the iPad, as a way of documenting the incident. Due to the unprofessional and intrusive nature of the streamed video, Steinaker reported the event to her superiors at Southwest.  Steinaker was not met with an ethical response, however, and was told to not reveal the contents of the video to anyone.

Steinaker and her spouse, also a flight attendant, filed a lawsuit against Southwest Airlines.  The airline claims an investigation did take place after the initial, alleged offense was brought to their attention and the proper steps were taken to address the crew present on the particular flight in question.  After looking into the matter more, Southwest ruled that an iPad was not found nor present in the airplane bathroom.  Known for lighthearted antics amongst the flight crews, Southwest labeled the occurrence as a harmless prank.  Although deemed a joke, Southwest does not excuse the misbehavior.  Steinaker is defending her initial complaint and claims she was advised to keep the instance to herself, as the company would lose a lot of business if the story leaked.

As a plaintiff, Steinaker argues that the safety of the entire airplane was not placed as a top priority.  The live video streaming served as a distraction to the pilots viewing it.  With the aircraft’s direction in the hands of the pilots, it is concerning that they would allow themselves to engage in conduct that was unsafe.  With the compromised protection of everyone on the plane, Steinaker took the necessary steps to help ensure a similar occurrence did not happen in the future.