American Airlines Flight Attendant Accused Of Bringing Rat To Work

Louann Giambattista was long known by co-workers for her love of pets. And in many offices, bringing your pet to work is gaining acceptance. But the flight attendant at American Airlines -- who owns a dog, gerbils and hamsters -- saw her reputation take a nosedive when three colleagues claimed to have seen her sneak her pet rat onto a plane and feed him dinner rolls. That's not even the most disturbing part of their story, either.

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The colleagues accused her of hiding the animal, named "Willard," in her pantyhose, according to a lawsuit Giambattista filed against the airline. Two fellow flight attendants, Connie Bolt and Dora Sterling, "began targeting Ms. Giambattista under the perceived notion that Ms. Giambattista had a mental disability because she was unable to to be away from her pet rats for any time period," Giambattista's complaint asserts.

Giambattista denied their claims, but because her colleagues notified the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Giambattista is now subject to inspections by federal agents every time she flies internationally, the lawsuit claims. She is claiming "debilitating anxiety" and post-traumatic stress disorder and is seeking unspecified damages.


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"She's not a nut. They're making her out to be a nut," he attorney, Stephen Morelli, told the New York Post, which was the first to report on her suit. "She has her pets at home, not at work," he also said. In the complaint, the charges were characterized as "absurd" and "patently false and physically impossible."

The incident involving the rat was alleged to have taken place last February, when Giambattista was working a flight from St. Martin to Miami. Her complaint says she was immediately questioned by a US ICE agent when she got off the plane, which led to the increased scrutiny over her flights. Her complaint adds she was even threatened she would potentially have to undergo a strip search.

Yet the treatment is not so different what everyday travellers have to endure, as a post on on MSN.com points out. "T
hat's what we have to do every time we fly," the news site wrote. Nevertheless, she says the special attention for the stewardess made "it nearly impossible" for her to report to work.

American Airlines has said it will reply to the charges in court.


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Dan Fastenberg

Dan Fastenberg

Associate Editor

Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.

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Mel Content

I would have been PO'd if the rat bumped me for an upgrade...

November 22 2013 at 9:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
doleeu7

I don't blame her the rat was more than likely better company, and a more intelligent conversationalist than the pilots.

July 12 2013 at 3:56 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Robert Oates

it was not a rat it was a hamster and she was not searched that good [or thay would have found it

July 10 2013 at 6:37 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
stvhndyman

"debilitating anxiety" and post-traumatic stress disorder....."
I'm not sure I would want this flight attendent on a flight I was taking.

July 10 2013 at 3:13 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
Marty Hunter

the bulge wasn't a live pet, Louanne was a man!

July 10 2013 at 3:06 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
sburke1320

A service animal , perhaps?

July 10 2013 at 1:23 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
JJ

So I'm paying for luggage and she gets to sneak in a rat?They better make her pay as much as my luggage for that.

July 10 2013 at 1:19 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
Dr. Cal Harris

I am confused, if ICE searched her after the flight, did they find her pet on her or not?

More 1st rate NEWS.............. arrrrggggghhhh.

July 10 2013 at 1:13 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Dr. Cal Harris's comment
ellegeering

NO RAT, NO ROLL ! This sounds like a Rat and Roll TRIP...on LSD.

July 11 2013 at 10:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
prawn259

how many dinner rolls can a rat eat?

July 10 2013 at 12:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to prawn259's comment
ellegeering

I guess a bulge full.

July 11 2013 at 10:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Seefeld41

Ask the _res_id-ent

July 17 2013 at 8:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Storm

SO where is the proof that she had her pet rat> Hearsay is BS and if those bthree hags didnt see that rat or see her put anything in her panty hose then they are a pack of liars that made her life inbearable and she should sue the hell out of them too, There is NO proof to back up their story,

July 09 2013 at 11:33 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Storm's comment
Dr. Cal Harris

Thank you. You stated what I was thinking.

July 10 2013 at 1:14 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
ellegeering

YES ! Storm ! You can see clearly through the fog !

July 14 2013 at 4:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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