PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - A flight attendant is suing Southwest Airlines after she discovered the pilot and co-pilot were watching a livestream video of the lavatory from the cockpit, according to court paperwork.
It happened on Flight 1088 from Pittsburgh to Phoenix in February 2017.
About two and a half hours into the flight, the pilot, Terry Graham, asked a flight attendant to sit in the cockpit while he used the restroom. Protocol states that two people must be in the cockpit at all times. Once inside, the flight attendant, Renee Steinaker, noticed an iPad mounted on the windshield in front of the pilot's seat. She claims that the iPad was livestreaming video from the lavatory, where Graham now was.
According to court documents, the co-pilot, Ryan Russell, told Steinaker the camera was so well-hidden that nobody would find it. He also told her not to tell anyone because it was on the "downlow (sic)." Russell tried to convince Steinaker that the cameras were new and installed in all lavatories of Southwest Airlines' 737-800s.
Steinaker took a photo of the iPad to document her observations.
When Graham returned, he hid the iPad and then refused to answer any of Steinaker's questions. Once the plane landed, Graham and Russell left the aircraft before passengers to catch another flight, leaving a firearm in the cockpit unattended, according to court documents. That's a violation of FAA regulations.
Steinaker showed other flight attendants the photo of the iPad and then reported her findings to Southwest Airlines.
However, according to court documents, Graham and Russell were never disciplined and continue to fly with the airline.
Steinaker claims that after reporting her findings, she was stalked and monitored by supervisors in a "threatening and bizarre manner."
Court paperwork indicates that Steinaker and other flight attendants were told to keep quiet about what they saw. Steinaker was warned, "if this got out, if this went public, no one, I mean no one, would ever fly our airline again."
Southwest Airlines released this statement:
"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."
The attorney's representing Steinaker and her husband, who is also a flight attendant, also released a statement:
"The cockpit of a commercial airliner is not a playground for peeping toms. Behavior that distracts and distresses crew members during flight compromises safety. 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."