For the first time, the flight attendants’ union surveyed their members about sexual harassment on the job. The results are staggering and so, so repulsive. A whopping 68% of flight attendants reported being harassed. That includes (among other things) lewd comments, groping, and propositioning.
Here’s what needs to be taken away from this survey. More than two thirds of the flight attendants who answered the survey said that they were verbally sexually harassed by passengers within the last year. 18% percent said that they were physically harassed. The comments that were made towards them were described as “nasty, unwanted, lewd [and] crude.” The physical abuse included having their breasts, behind, and crotch “touched, felt, pulled, grabbed, groped, slapped, rubbed, and fondled.”
— CNN (@CNN) May 11, 2018
Flight attendants also reported that they were shown porn videos, propositioned for sex, and asked to perform sexual favors.
More like 98%… I don’t know one single flight attendant who doesn’t have a story to tell. And I’ve been in the industry for a looong time. It’s not getting any better. https://t.co/Rstlp75H0g
— ArcanaXV (@ArcanaXV) May 11, 2018
“I used to get cornered in the back galley and asked what my hottest layover was,” Association of Flight Attendants president Sara Nelson told CNN Money. “When I started flying I used to get asked if I was a member of the mile high club. That was a common quip from a passenger.” She called the sexual harassment of flight attendants “a silent epidemic in our country.”
“This is an industry that is steeped in a sexist past,” Nelson explained. “The airlines for a very long time sold tickets based on defining air travel in a sexual way and oftentimes flight attendants were the object of that.”
Dear female flight attendant who endured 2 hrs of having a pig call you “cutie pie”, grab your name tag and tell you how you’d like resorts in Europe because they go “au natural”, as I said, I’m sorry for his behavior. Please know I confronted him loudly and in public. @united
— Nadia Bolz-Weber (@Sarcasticluther) April 6, 2018
Some airlines are attempting to address this awful problem. Delta Airlines is adding additional training for their employees to help them deal with these situations. United Airlines, American Airlines, and Spirit Airlines sent out emails “condemning” harassment.
“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.” Unacceptable. This should be a mandatory training unit. https://t.co/nCY42fOOwg
— Break the Cycle (@BreaktheCycleDV) January 7, 2018
Alaska Airlines, meanwhile, banned a man from ever using their airline again after he harassed a flight attendant (now THAT’S more like it). The abuser has since complained about “reverse discrimination against men,” and excuse me while I go vomit somewhere.
Hopefully airlines take a very serious, proactive approach to this issue and make sure that their employees feel safe. Also, c’mon men. Just do better. Do so, so much better.