This isn’t exactly of CIA-KGB proportions, but American Airlines has sued an ex-employee who publishes The Sky Steward blog and unidentified current airline employees who allegedly are conspiring with him.
The suit alleges that the employees furnished the blogger with confidential flight information about current and former executives.
The suit seeks damages from Gailen David, the blogger and former American Airlines purser who was fired in March, and ¬†one to 10 John Doe defendants, current American Airlines employees, who allegedy accessed through the Sabre system a passenger list and other confidential information about executives’ travels and provided them to David.
The suit also alleges that David has violated American Airlines trademarks through ownership of www.sAAveAA.com and posts such as AA Sixth Floor Gossip Extra: Skiing with AA’s Almost Rich and FAAmous in Vail!
Among David’s and the John Does’ alleged transgressions, the suit says David published details about the travel plans of Don Carty, ex-chairman and CEO at American Airlines and current chairman of Virgin America, and his wife, with the blogger claiming he got the information from his “DFW mole.”
The suit also cites a Sky Steward post about the flight plans of American Airlines executive Peter Dolara,¬†”according to my mole in Special Services,” and the following about unidentified American Airlines executives:
The executives on flight 2598 were flying on A-passes which can actually bump revenue passengers … Two AA elite AAdvantage passengers were denied upgrades in order to accommodate the AA executive jet-setters.
Most of these posts are directed at what David sees as the privileged and offensive flight habits of current and former American Airlines’ executives.
The Sky Steward posts claim to represent the true feelings of American Airlines rank-and-file employees and a¬†petition¬†on the site¬†asks the judge overseeing the American Airlines bankruptcy proceeding to select new leadership for the airline in a bid to reinvent it and provide job protections for employees.
David’s counsel has not yet answered the American Airlines complaint, filed April 10 in the District Court of Tarrant County, but in a Tnooz interview, David says he never accessed flight information from the Sabre system, and although he boasted about “moles” working for the airline for “entertainment purposes,” there actually are none.
“They are trying to make it look sneaky,” David says. “I would never access computers like that.”
David adds: “They [American Airlines] will wish they wouldn’t have pressed this because it is going to be embarrassing to American Airlines.”
David won’t say where he obtained the confidential information about American Airlines executives.
David says, however, “I was given a lot of clearance,” pointing to a former role at the airline as a member of its purser advisory board. “A lot of information was always furnished to me because I was designing a training program training people on how to use AAdvantage.”
About his alleged use of American Airlines trademarks, David says he writes “snarky” posts and “parodies,” and vows he will “absolutely” continue blogging about the airline.
The airline alleges that David and the John Does are conspiring to disclose confidential information. The suit alleges:
“Since defendant David’s termination, based on information and belief, he continues to conspire with, and be aided by Defendant Does in accessing, using and disclosing American’s confidential information from the Sabre system.”
In a side note, in what may be illustrative about the state of social media and public relations, The Sky Steward states correctly that American Airlines’ public relations firm, Weber Shandwick, owns the URL TomHortonSucks.com¬†¬†in an apparent preemptive blow against someone else getting it.
Tom Horton is American Airlines’ chairman and CEO.
David writes, however, that he has secured another URL, also disparaging, about the American Airlines CEO.