CNN Report Illustrates Sexual Assaults on Commercial Flights

President of flight attendants’ union says in 22 years on the job, she’s never been trained or told how to deal with sexual assault on a plane.

byKate Gibson| PUBLISHED Dec 28, 2017 5:13 PM
CNN Report Illustrates Sexual Assaults on Commercial Flights

Just minutes after Katie Campos took her seat on United Airlines for the brief flight from Newark, New Jersey to Buffalo, New York last week, she was allegedly groped by an intoxicated male seated next to her.

One of four women interviewed about their experiences by CNN, the networks quotes Campos as saying the man "grabbed my upper thigh, like in the crotch area, and he grabbed it pretty forcefully."

The man told another woman seated in Campos' row he wanted to kiss her and started stroking her leg after she declined, according to a police report cited by the network.

In Campos' case, she left her seat and ran to the back of the aircraft, telling a flight attendant what had occurred. It took her refusing to go back to her seat next to the man for her complaints to be taken seriously, Campos told CNN. "I felt like no one, no one that was supposed to be in charge could handle the situation," she said.

Campos, in the end, was reseated, right behind her harasser, who continued to touch her. United Airlines explained there were not many empty seats on the plane. 

United Airlines has "zero tolerance for this type of behavior," a spokesperson told CNN. "Our pilot requested that local law enforcement meet the aircraft on arrival."

The man was escorted off the plane by police and charged with disorderly conduct.

CNN's account follows recent claims by Randi Zuckerberg, the sister of the Facebook founder, that she was harassed on an Alaska Airlines flight. 

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA said a survey conducted by the union found many flight attendants had not been told how to respond to complaints of harassment or assault. 

"In my 22 years as a flight attendant, I have never taken part in a conversation -- in training or otherwise -- about how to handle sexual harassment or sexual assault," Sara Nelson, a United Airlines flight attendant who is president of the union, told CNN.