If Someone at Alaska Airlines Likes Your "Butt", They Might Just Let You Know

When I was heading off to Vegas and mentioned that I'd let you know about anything "newsworthy", this isn't really what I had in mind. I am going to blog about one of the weirder and possibly the creepiest thing that has ever happened to me (and I used to live in LA!). I actually debated about whether to blog this at all, but I decided that I really had to. This blog is about me and my personal experiences and it's also about marketing. As much as I might like to not relive the weirdness of this incident, I think that plenty could be learned about handling "customer issues". Anyway, enough stalling; this is what happened.

Last Wednesday, I was having a good morning. Dropped Jonas off at his boarding place, got my coffee and headed off to the airport looking forward to my trip to Vegas. Got to the airport with plenty of time and decided to "carry-on" my bag instead of checking it. I electronically checked in at the Alaska counter and headed off to my gate. When they called for "final boarding", I headed down the walkway to the plane. As I walked down, wheeling my bag, a man who appeared to be a baggage handler was standing near the entrance to the plane. I said "hi" and entered the plane...it was a full flight. I wheeled through first class and entered the main cabin where the flight attendant told me that there was no room for my bag in the overhead compartment and we would have to "gate check" it. She asked me to leave my bag at the front of the main cabin and to head back to my seat. She would retrieve the bag and have it gate checked.

She came back with a pink ticket for me and we joked about how nice it would be to have my bag waiting outside the plane when we got to Las Vegas, instead of at the baggage claim. Uneventful flight otherwise, arrived in Vegas and my bag was waiting for me right outside the plane, headed to my hotel, etc., etc. I go up to my room and one of my coworkers is with me. I unzip my bag so I can hang some of my clothes and I notice something in my bag that I didn't put there. It looks like a little piece of paper with writing on it. I picked it up. On one side, there's some kind of Alaska Airlines form with a paw print on it (I'd later find out, it was part of a tag that goes on a pet carrier when it's checked). On the other side (I kid you not), is a hand written note: " Ill like to Have sex with you U. Have a Nice Butt" and a phone number. Appears to be the same ink as the writing in the pink ticket (blue felt tip).

I don't know if you have ever had anything happen to you that made your skin go cold and your heart beat like crazy. I immediately felt completely shocked and a little sick. And I had just gotten to Vegas where there are plenty of other creepy things that cold have made me feel a little sick. Let's be clear, I really don't think this is about my butt at all; and it's not about sex.

I didn't really blog about this to explore the emotions someone feels when something creepy like this happens. What I want to talk about is how a company handles something like this. We've all seen blog posts about customer complaints and what companies do (or don't do) to address them. I don't have any relationship with Alaska Airline other than being a frequent flyer. I initially thought that perhaps if I blogged about his, Alaska Airlines wouldn't treat me as well in taking care of this issue. I've had several phone calls with them over the last several days. I'll update you on those soon as well as ongoing developments.

Definitely one flight I am never going to forget. Let's just hope that Alaska can do the right thing here (nothing has happened so far that makes me feel like they won't). More to come..

Comments (34)

  1. matt says:

    Yikes! I wonder how many times the guy has done this and it hasn’t been reported. I’m glad to hear that you are following up on it. This type of behavior could indicate that the guy has deeper problems. It could only be a matter of time before he does something terrible.

    But have a nice day anyway! 😉

  2. HeatherLeigh says:

    Gee, that’s no fun to think about. Scary. I’ll blog on this more, but the baggage handlers for Alaska are contractors.

  3. Charlie says:

    Why don’t you call the number and tell the person how rude he was and move on with your life?

  4. A-Nonymous says:

    Wow! Yikes. Im sorry this happened. What an invasion of privacy. Im sure they can track down who was working the flight that day and all that. Not only did they invade your personal space and open your bag (only TSA can do that), they violated alot more.

    They have to enter the baggage tag in the computer so it matches your ticket. I would suspect there would be a 0 tolerance policy at any company and the person would be fired. Maybe you will get a couple of free flights out of it, but again something like that shouldnt happen. Sorry, no one should have to deal with that.

  5. HeatherLeigh says:

    Charlie, you are joking, right? Because he invaded my privacy. Because that’s not how a successful company treats customers. Because I doubt that’s his actual phone number. Like he’s going to care about being told he’s rude…hahha. Because he shouldn’t work there…shouldn’t be around customers. I’m guessing that you have never been a single female business traveler, am I right? Boy, if we all just decided to "move on" instead of complaining about things that are wrong, we would certainly be an apathetic bunch expecting to be treated poorly. You can live your life like that…not me.

    My life isn’t being held up because of this. Like I said, it’s about how companies handle this kind of stuff and I’ll bog about that further. It’s my blog so I get to talk about what I want, but thanks for your helpful suggestion.

  6. Sunish says:

    Make sure you get an official response from Alaska! To me the key issue here is invasion of your privacy…no one is allowed to open your luggage except the TSA (when you check luggage in) and they leave a notice in your bag when they do. I think it’s all real weird!

  7. Scott says:

    Company response? The hell, call the police.

  8. AC says:

    This is really gross. But when you think about it, it’s also a huge security issue. This time, he slipped a note into your bag, the next time it could be a bomb or a packet of cocaine.

    I think you should take this up with Alaska and the TSA.

  9. Dennis Smith says:

    Heather – this is definitely one of the wildest posts I’ve ever seen on your site. I figured there would be 100+ comments!

    Wow – what a bummer. Fortunatley, most of us ugly men won’t ever have to worry about getting a note in our suitcase from a baggage handler. However, it also creeps me out there somebody was bold (stupid) enough to actually pull a stunt like this.

    Please keep us posted as to the end result. I’m very anxious to hear how the airline handles one of the nuttiest "customer" issues I’ve heard in a while.

  10. Brian says:

    If Alaska has not already contacted them, I am sure the Port of Seattle Police ((206) 431-3490) would be interested.

  11. Hasani says:

    I was gonna post "this thread is useless without pics" :0

    but after reading your article, I hope that guy gets jailtime and you get a lot of $$$ from Alaska Air…. That’s just not right under any circumstances.

  12. dennis says:

    This is truly creepy since we are all asked/forced to trust these people that are part of our travel system.

    Perhaps in addition to our basic luggage recovery information, we should include a tag on our luggage saying: "If you are seeking companionship, find me attractive, and feel the need to contact someone directly, please try match.com. I’m not seeking contacts."

    I hope you continue to press this issue with Alaska Airlines and make sure they understand the implications. Don’t think of this as merely an airline issue. What would be the effect if your hotel staff left you a similar note in your room? Airline staff are merely part of the business traveller chain and if any (some) of them go down this route, their firms will lose business accordingly.

  13. Adam Kontras says:


    He loses his job. She flies free for a year. I pray someone likes my butt enough for me to get to fly free for a year. But JAIL TIME? Man, that’s really pushing it.

  14. Steve says:

    While I agree he should get jail time and she could probably sue him personally, why should she be entitled to money from Alaska Airlines? I’m sickened by what happened to her, does MSDN owe me money because she made me feel this way by posting it? Maybe I could sue her employer for mental anguish? Ah! I know, I’ll sue you for irritating me!

    How does suing Alaska Airlines help here? Do you think they train their employees in the proper way to harrass passengers?

    I just get sick of everyone suing corporations whenever thier employees turn out to be freakin idiots. That money is not magically placed in the company bank account. It comes from the pockets of the passengers.

  15. Surge says:

    I don’t really see anything wrong with that…a guy liked you and left you his phone number…he wasn’t rude and he completely left the decision to you…maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to put it inside your bag, but I don’t really see another option…I don’t think you should harm him…

  16. Wade says:

    "no one is allowed to open your luggage except the TSA (when you check luggage in) and they leave a notice in your bag when they do."

    Incorrect. Airlines are allowed to open your bags and routinely do. Usually it’s for benign things like someone put a bunch of wine bottles in their bag which broke and now the bag is leaking. As a general rule they wouldn’t open your bag unless there’s a problem with it, it appears suspicious, it’s a lost bag and they’re looking for an identifier, etc.

  17. Norcal AC says:


    Oh please, jail time for this? Clearly he should be fired, but I do not think that the taxpayers should be burdened with hosting this guy at the hardrock inn.

    The comment about a payout is just as laughable, though very American in sentiment.

  18. Charlie says:

    Heather, How do you know that a male was behind your unpleasant experience; Hand-writing analysis or StereoTyping?

  19. HeatherLeigh says:

    Adam-I actually would have preferred not to have someone invade my privacy in the first place.

    Steve-I have no plans to sue Alaska Airlines. I have never asked them for money. I agree with you that this was one bad seed and not the whole airline but there’s is a customer care issue that they have to deal with because they were the employer of this guy. Regardless, let me make it clear that I am not demanding any money from them! Please!

    Surge-Ew! He broke the law. Second, it’s creepy and disgusting. You obviously don’t think so but, I’ll tell you what. In whatever field you are in, why don’t you find a female customer and whisper the same words to her that I found on the note. See how well that works out for you. Just a fun little experiment.

    Wade-do they have to have cause to open the bag? Sounds like you have some inside scoop. Thanks for the info.

    Norcal AC-I agree with you except the American part. Again, I didn’t ask for money. I asked for them to resolve the situation.

    Charlie-because I saw him. Visual identification. What’s your problem with this? You seem somehow to be trying to make me out as the bad person in this scenario. Let’s not make this into something it isn’t. Seriously, what the real problem?

  20. Matt says:


    Alaska Airlines *is* responsible. The contractor was acting as as agent of the airline and anything he does as part of his employment is done on behalf of the airline.

    For the same reasons, if you royally screw up at work and cause damages to a customer of your employer’s, the customer can sue your employer.

  21. Charlie says:

    Unless you saw him place the note in your bag, you are making an assumption that the male you saw earlier at the gateway was the ONLY individual that could have slipped the note in your bag; correct?

    You seem to imply in your first reply to me that your only options are to roll over or deal with complaints via your blog. That is wrong.

    …I am trying to understand your ‘real problem’ comment and don’t exactly, but I think that years ago a lot of strong women would have kept this between Alaska Airlines and themselves and that they might have called up the *sshole and given him/her a piece of their mind and moved on.

    Pretty distracting week at work so far for somebody whose ‘life isn’t being held up.

  22. HeatherLeigh says:

    Charlie-I’ve gotten plenty done at work this week which shouldn’t be your concern. The "real problem", which the people I’ve spoken to at Alaska have agreed is a "real problem" is that this person entered my bag without my permission and left a dirty note. You might not think that is a big deal, but the folks at Alaska do. You seem very angry. If you don’t think my concern is valid, feel free to move along. Or better yet, don’t post anonymously.

  23. Charlie says:

    FYI: You were asking me what ‘the real problem’ was. You replied to me by asking ‘Seriously, what the real problem?’ after my second post.

    Of course I ‘seem angry’. That is how somebody sees others when they are in a defensive posture. I actually place myself in the ‘lover of life’ category.

    How would you benefit by me not posting anonymously? Thanks.

  24. Jean-Bernard says:

    Hi Heather: had not read this before. Hope you’re doing fine, take great care.JB

  25. Lascaille says:

    Any individual that thinks that jail time is appropriate for 1. Opening a customer’s bag (not a crime, airline employees are permitted to do so, in fact opening a bag is always legal – stealing the contents or the bag itself never is) and 2. Leaving a ‘weird’ note…

    Note to Americans: you put more people in jail than nearly any other country, and you have the nearly the most crime. Go figure.

  26. Nicholas says:

    You should just ban Charlie.

    What happened is terrible, no doubt. I hope Alaska works to resolve the situation to your full satisfaction.

  27. HeatherLeigh says:

    Jean-Bernard, thanks for those nice wishes ; )

    Lascaille-I agreed. He just shouldn’t have that job anymore.

    Nicholas-thanks ; ) Not a bad idea

  28. Fly Girl says:

    I am appalled at both what happened, and many of the comments.

    Under no scenario that I can come up with (and I have a pretty creative mind)is this behavior appropriate. It is most certainly grounds for termination. But it is important to get a few facts straight.

    The baggage handlers are employed by an independent company (Menzies), so that company is the one that would need to take action, that is, conduct an investigation, obtain evidence, and take appropriate action. Employees have a right to be heard before discipline.

    While Alaska Airlines is certainly responsible for the performance of its subcontractors, it has no ability to fire the person who did this. The company’s recourse is to terminate the contract with its subcontractor.

    Next, everyone is talking about jail time just a little prematurely. What crime has been committed? Invasion of privacy, tackiness, creepiness, etc., are not criminal offenses. (Sometimes I wish they were, though.)

    How the company handles this is what interests me. Although I smile at all the ideas of filing a lawsuit (such an American notion), or all the free flying that should occur (a bit disproportionate, in my opinion), it all seems to escalate a situation beyond what it really is.

    This is abhorrent behavior. I do not condone or justify it in any way. But perspective in all things is important.

  29. Shivonne says:

    WOW what an awful experience! I hope you get some positive resolution about this – it’s probably just as bad as being stalked.

  30. Paul says:

    Without a doubt, the weirdest flying experience I’ve ever heard about. I would find it icky, scary, repulsive, offensive, off-putting, unpleasant, unwelcome, etc., and I find it difficult to even imagine that some of the guys posting here can’t put themselves in your shoes for a second.

    I know this isn’t anywhere near as bad, but I was once propositioned by a gay guy at a pub in London that I didn’t realize catered to that crowd until it was too late – I arrived before the crowds for fish and chips and a beer, and didn’t notice the Judy Garland, et al posters. Fortunately, I was about a foot taller, 75 pounds heavier, and not particularly intimidated, but I felt icky and unclean nonetheless. Must be awful for women having to put up with this kind of harrassment all the time.

    The minimum you should get is a promise to follow up, an apology in writing, and a report on what happens. They need to show you they take this seriously, and that they are trying to fix the problem and prevent its recurrence.

  31. Surfer says:

    "Let’s be clear, I really don’t think this is about my butt at all; and it’s not about sex."

    Really?  To be clear, what DO you think that note is about?  

    Or do you mean that you only want to talk about the customer service aspect, as opposed to speculating on hidden agendas and motivations behind the note?  

  32. HeatherLeigh says:

    It was that I don’t think an interest in my butt was the reason the person wrote the note and I really don’t care if it was or wasn’t the reason. I’m so over this right now. I am going to close out the comments on this post.

  33. One Louder says:

    I got an mass e-mail yesterday from Alaska Airlines. I guess I get these because I have a frequent flyer

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