Takes animal lover to a whole new level.
According to The NY Post
They smelled a rat.
A Long Island flight attendant was accused of hiding pet rats in her pantyhose and panties in order to sneak them onto planes, according to a lawsuit.
But veteran American Airlines stewardess Louann Giambattista, 55, says allegations made by three colleagues were “absurd” and “patently false” — and they have turned her life upside-down.
The purported “Willard” witnesses included a pilot who helped her out of a van at the airport during a layover on Feb. 26, 2012. The aviator claimed “he saw a bulge in [her] pocket” and saw “what he thought was a live pet,” according to papers filed in Brooklyn federal court.
Later, during the flight from St. Martin to Miami, a fellow flight attendant “believed [Giambattista] fed her pet rats,” court papers said.
Giambattista, an admitted animal lover, said the co-worker assumed she was feeding her furry friends because she saw her “eating a dinner roll out of a cup.” But Giambattista claims the roll was for her — and that she hid it in a cup to avoid looking unprofessional in front of passengers.
When the co-workers ratted on Giambattista upon landing in Florida, a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent questioned her and searched her belongings for an hour, she alleges.
A lawyer for the Long Beach woman called the claims of flying rodents preposterous.
“Everybody has pets — she has her pets at home, not at work,” attorney Stephen Morelli said. “She’s not a nut. They’re making her out to be a nut.”
In response to the reported rats on a plane, the airline put a flag on her passport, according to the lawsuit Giambattista filed last week.
Though no critters were ever found, Giambattista said she remained blacklisted for more than a year, with federal agents subjecting her to stops and searches every time she passed through customs, “making it nearly impossible for [her] to report to work.” ICE agents bullied her and threatened her with a strip search, she charges in court papers.
She claims she was put “on display” during one interrogation in an employee break room, as other airline employees filtered in and out “purely to observe.”
The situation left her with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, including “debilitating anxiety,” Giambattista claims.
But American Airlines refused to transfer her to domestic flights so she could avoid customs, the 33-year industry veteran maintains.
“There was no reason for it,” Giambattista said of why she was targeted. “People say, ‘There must have been a reason,’ but there is none.”
Giambattista is seeking unspecified damages. American Airlines said it would respond to the claims in court.
A dog owner, Giambattista also has gerbils and hamsters.
“She’s got a lot of different pets,” lawyer Morelli said. “She had the rat — it died.”
Post-traumatic stress…really? That’s almost as crazy as carrying a rat in your underwear.