The American Airlines Group is facing a lawsuit filed by a woman who claimed that one of the airline’s flight attendants locked her and her child inside a lavatory during a flight in September 2022.
Yasbleidy Giraldo was flying from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) with her two young children and husband.
During the flight, her two children urgently needed to go to the bathroom. Giraldo, who was seated on the first row of the economy section, saw that the closest lavatories were the ones in first class, so she attempted to use it.
American Airlines’ policy allows all passengers, regardless of ticket or seat class, to use first class lavatories on domestic flights.
Giraldo claimed, however, that a first class flight attendant prevented her from using the lavatory and directed her to use the economy class lavatory located at the rear of the aircraft.
Giraldo did as instructed and changed her son’s diaper at the rear of the economy section.
Whilst in that area, a second flight attendant informed Giraldo that there was no airline prohibition in using the closest lavatory, so she could have used the first class lavatory.
Later in the flight, one of Giraldo’s children again needed to use the bathroom, so she took her child to the first class lavatory. On the way, the first class flight attendant tried to stop her, but Giraldo was able to get past her.
Once she was inside the lavatory, Giraldo heard the sound of the door locking from the outside. The door would not budge when Giraldo tried to open it, and she alleged that the flight attendant “sneered through the door, and said,‘oh are you locked in, do you need someone to open the door, ma’am?’”
Giraldo said that because she suffers from claustrophobia and anxiety when flying, she started banging on the lavatory door which traumatized her three-year old son.
The flight attendant eventually opened the lavatory door, and when Giraldo and her son returned to their seats, they were told by the flight attendant that the pilot had called in a “terrorist alert”.
Giraldo said that on arrival, she and her family were escorted off the plane, and were questioned for 15 minutes before being released.
Giraldo told the New York Post that she believes that this was an incident of racism, because the flight attendant heard her speaking Farsi, a modern Persian language, to her husband and children.
Giraldo is undergoing therapy due to the incident, her lawyer said.
Meanwhile, American Airlines told the New York Post that it is reviewing the details of the lawsuit and that “American strives to provide a positive and welcoming experience to everyone who travels with us and we take allegations of discrimination very seriously.”