Mile high club: Southwest pilots accused of livestreaming bathroom, leaving firearm in cockpit

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Apparently, a couple of Southwest Airlines pilots are currently in some hot water for allegedly live-streaming, to a personal device, people and their “precious cargo” while using the in-flight lavatory.

While sounding like an unused plot line from the movie “Airplane!”, the lawsuit that is in the works by a flight attendant within the company is no laughing matter.

A Southwest Airlines flight attendant based out of Phoenix, Arizona has filed suit against the airline. In her complaint, Renee Steinaker is accusing the company of retaliation after she reported two pilots from one of the flights, she was on for livestreaming video from the lavatory to an iPad in the cockpit.

The lawsuit in question alleges that on February 27th, 2017, Renee Steinaker was working as a flight attendant on Flight 1088 between Pittsburgh and Phoenix. Approximately 2½ hours into the flight, the pilot, Captain Terry Graham, requested Steinaker to come to the cockpit so that he might leave to use the restroom.

Not an unusual request, considering that Southwest Airlines policy requires two crew members in the cockpit at all times, so Steinaker was asked to staff the cockpit with co-pilot Ryan Russell in Graham’s absenteeism.

According to complaint, Steinaker entered the cockpit and had noticed an iPad mounted to the windshield to the left of the captain’s seat. From her perspective, what was broadcast on the screen appeared to be a live feed to Captain Graham actually using the restroom.

When Steinaker made her sighting of the perceived live-feed obvious to the co-pilot, allegedly Russell looked panicked and told her the cameras were a new top-secret security measure that had been installed in all Southwest Airlines planes, which Steinaker reasonably believed that to be nonsensical.

Attorney Ronald L.M. Goldman, who is representing Steinaker in the case, told the USA TODAY:

“They led her to believe that she and others had been filmed — had been videotaped if you will — while they were using the lavatory. It’s really hard to imagine a more outrageous kind of conduct.”

According to the court filing, Steinaker had managed to take a picture of the iPad showing the alleged live-stream with her cellphone in an effort to document the incident.

When the plane had finally landed, the pilots violated airline protocol and “disembarked, leaving the aircraft unattended by piloting staff,” Steinaker alleges in the suit. The suit also alleges that Captain Graham had “left a loaded firearm unattended in the cockpit, a violation of FAA regulations.”

According to reports, Steinaker and other crew members from that flight had reported the incident to the airline. The suit claims the pilots were allowed to continue to their next scheduled flight and they still fly with the airline to this day.

Steinaker claims she was told, in not to subtle ways or terms, not to talk to anybody about the reported incident and was warned that:

“If this got out, if this went public, no one, I mean no one, would ever fly our airline again.”

Ronald L.M. Goldman also represents Steinaker’s husband David, who also happens to be a Southwest flight attendant, too. The suit is also alleging that the couple have faced individualized instances of retaliation.

Examples cited in the suit ranged from being monitored by managers in a “threatening and bizarre manner” and being subjected to an increased number of performance audits.

When speculating on the case, Ronald L.M. Goldman stated:

“In my view, Southwest Airlines has treated this as ‘how dare they report it’ rather than ‘thank you for letting us know,” Goldman said.

Considering the amount of negative press that this can, and undoubtedly will, create for the airline, Southwest responded to an inquiry regarding the case via email when reached out to by the Arizona Republic:

“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.”

In court, the attorneys for the pilots have denied that the two engaged in any livestreaming the commode. Court filings also deny that the two pilots named in the suit violated any airline policy or protocol.

Goldman lent his thoughts toward the issues of trust and safety that this suit alleges: 

“In my opinion as an aviation lawyer with many years of experience, this does compromise the safety of flight and the safety of passengers, not even to mention for the potential of violating the privacy of all of the passengers as well as the crew.”

A separate airport story should help reinvigorate your faith in humanity, after a busy airport came to a complete standstill to honor fallen service member and his family.

Note: At the request of the family, we’ve withheld the identity and backstory of this fallen warrior.  And believe us – he was a warrior and a hero.  We’ve decided to still publish the story because we felt it was important to show that even with his passing, this man managed to protect America.  But this time, instead of protecting the physical security of our great country, he was arguably protecting the very soul of it.

We hope you’ll help us pay tribute to his final service to each of us by helping spread this message.  May God bless this man and bring peace to his loved ones.

It was a painful and perhaps ironic conclusion to our trip to Missouri.

We had just spent a couple of days with Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) in Missouri, talking about how our partnership between Law Enforcement Today and their organization could continue to help rebuild the shattered lives of families who had lost their officers in the line of duty.

Shortly after boarding, the Captain on the Southwest plane addressed those of us who were seated on the plane, waiting to fly to Bradley International Airport in Connecticut.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have the distinct honor of returning a fallen service member to his family and his home on this flight today,” he said.  He’s escorted by his brother and another member of the service.”

Silence.

He spoke for a few more moments, then the flight attendant spoke.

“When we land, we’d be greatly appreciative if you could all stay completely seated until these two men get off and escort their fallen brother from the plane back to his family,” she said.  “The sacrifices that so many make can be seen right here in this very moment.  I ask you all to honor them.”

Silence.  Not a word was spoken.  The only sounds were a few sobs and sniffles throughout the plane.  That silence remained until long after we took off.

Two hours and twenty five minutes passed.  During that flight, many people, myself included, prayed.  We prayed for the fallen.  For the family.  For those who have paid the ultimate price… for those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Ten minutes before landing, the flight attendant spoke again, giving us a reminder.

We landed next to a seemingly endless line of firetrucks and police cars.  Men and women in uniform, standing at attention.

Not a single person uttered a sound.

You could hear a pin drop when the family got off the plane to escort the casket of this fallen warrior. Then…just before they got off the plane… came a thunderous round of applause.

Airport comes to complete standstill to honor fallen veteran

In that clapping… tears. Pride. Joy. Pain. Love.

It was a shared moment on that plane … in honor of everyone who has ever served the country. For those we lost. For those we love. For those who defend. For those who sacrifice.

The clapping grew louder and louder.  It was a release valve.  It was the hurt and the pain.  It was a cry from a nation that’s lost so many in so many ways.  

In it, was a desperation for the country we lost.  The unity we’ve lost.  The moments of a nation together we’ve lost by becoming a nation divided.  

In that clapping, we were a people together again like we were on September 12, 2001.  We were one people filled with love and togetherness. In that brief moment on the plane, there were no Democrats or Republicans… there was no black or white or straight or gay or Christian or Jew or Muslim or atheist. 

There were only Americans. Paying tribute. Honoring. Respecting.

When we got off the plane, the windows were lined with people paying their respects for a man we will never know… but a man who has our love and eternal gratitude.

That man died a hero. For with that landing, for just a few minutes, he did the impossible. He brought us all together.

When a person mourns, we do so because we’re experiencing loss.  But also because, in many cases, we’re experiencing anger.  Anger that something has been taken from us unfairly.

Our family at Law Enforcement Today believes that we have a nation in mourning in so many different ways.  We’ve lost brothers and sisters in law enforcement, fire rescue and the military.  We’ve had countless warriors win on the battlefield… only to lose the battle with demons in their own living room and end up taking their own lives.

We have families that have been divided by politics.  We have wounded officers and veterans who feel as if they’ve been forgotten by society.  Who believe that their lives don’t matter.  That their stories don’t matter.

That’s exactly why we created LET Unity.  The entire purpose of the platform is to tell the untold stories of those who feel abandoned by society.  Of patriots.  Of unity.  Our goal is to bridge the gap between civilian and civil servant.  

One of the reasons people feel like their stories don’t matter is because of what social media platforms have done.  For the past few years, they’ve started scaling back the reach of content that it didn’t believe people should see.

Not that there was anything offensive about it.  We’re talking about pro-police videos, stories about patriotic Americans and more. 

And from our perspective, that created a huge problem.  We have some of the greatest warriors in the world.  Yet their voices and their stories were being buried.

The mainstream media, on the rare occasion that it would tell some of these stories, would give you only a piece of them.  They’d cram as much as they could into a 90 second segment, slap their bias on it and that was it.

We needed to fix it. And so we are – with LET Unity, with the proceeds going directly back into telling these stories.

 Many have dubbed it the “Netflix of the law enforcement community”.  But the truth is, it’s so much more.

The first officer in the door at the Pulse nightclub shooting. 

Mile high club: Southwest pilots accused of livestreaming bathroom, leaving firearm in cockpit

Emergency responders from the Parkland shooting. 

Mile high club: Southwest pilots accused of livestreaming bathroom, leaving firearm in cockpit

The bomb squad that responded to the Aurora movie theater massacre. 

Mile high club: Southwest pilots accused of livestreaming bathroom, leaving firearm in cockpit

Survivors of the Dallas five killings.

Mile high club: Southwest pilots accused of livestreaming bathroom, leaving firearm in cockpit

The first Marine Guard hostage in the Iran crisis. 

Mile high club: Southwest pilots accused of livestreaming bathroom, leaving firearm in cockpit

The CIA agent who started a counter human trafficking organization.

Mile high club: Southwest pilots accused of livestreaming bathroom, leaving firearm in cockpit

SWAT teams. 

Mile high club: Southwest pilots accused of livestreaming bathroom, leaving firearm in cockpit

Sniper schools. 

Mile high club: Southwest pilots accused of livestreaming bathroom, leaving firearm in cockpit

World War II veterans.

Mile high club: Southwest pilots accused of livestreaming bathroom, leaving firearm in cockpit

And so, so much more.

The membership is less than the cost of two coffees a month, and those who sign up for an annual membership will get some surprise bonuses in the mail.  We decided to charge a nominal fee so we could take all of the proceeds and reinvest them into capturing more of these stories.

On top of that, we’re opening up the platform to some well-known podcasters who are going to be joining the team with some incredible content soon.

We have a problem in society.  Censorship has created an existential threat to democracy.  But even worse is the risk we run that some of these incredible stories of patriotism, hope, faith and our Sheepdogs would be lost.

You’ll find a series of content with Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) to share the stories of survivors along with a regular law enforcement focused newscast that addresses some of the most important topics in the country… and helps bridge the gap between those who serve and those whom they serve.

On top of that, we’ll soon be rolling out a series of private discounts and special promotions to members only as a “thank you” for being a part of the family.

The beta platform is live and the apps for Apple, Android, Apple TV and Roku will be launching soon. 

We hope you’ll join us in this journey, knowing that your membership is going to give a voice to those who have been silenced for so long.

Click here to sign up. Welcome to the family.

 

 

Want to make sure you never miss a story from Law Enforcement Today?  With so much “stuff” happening in the world on social media, it’s easy for things to get lost.  
 
Make sure you click “following” and then click “see first” so you don’t miss a thing!  (See image below.)  Thanks for being a part of the LET family!
 
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