American Airlines Blamed 9-Year-Old For Being Recorded In Airplane Bathroom

Photo: Angus Mordant/Bloomberg
Photo: Angus Mordant/Bloomberg

American Airlines is under fire for blaming a 9-year-old girl for using the airplane bathroom when she was allegedly recorded by a former flight attendant in January 2023. The airline initially argued in court on Monday that “she knew or should have known [the lavatory] contained a visible and illuminated recording device,” before requesting its law firm to change its response. Federal investigators claim Estes Carter Thompson taped an iPhone to the lavatory’s toilet to record minors secretly.

The FBI claims that Thompson recorded minors on several American Airlines flights last year, CNN reports. In April, the Department of Justice indicted the 37-year-old on charges including sexual exploitation of children and possession of child pornography related to a different incident. During the investigation, prosecutors found videos in an iCloud account of four other minors, including the 9-year-old girl mentioned earlier.

American Airlines explained its perspective on what happened in a statement to CNN:


In response to CNN’s request for comment on Monday’s filing, American Airlines said the filing was made in error by outside counsel retained by the airline’s insurance company.

“The included defense is not representative of our airline, and we have directed it be amended this morning,” American Airlines said in a statement Wednesday. “We do not believe this child is at fault and we take the allegations involving a former team member very seriously.”

It’s difficult to believe that American Airlines simply made an error when making the legal filing. Multiple people presumably signed off on the document alleging that a 9-year-old girl was responsible for her own sexual exploitation. The attorney for the girl and her family believes the airline amended its response because of the public backlash.

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