Another In-Flight Sexual Harassment Case

And here we are again, with another case of a woman sexually harassed in flight. Only this time, we believe her.

As news broke last night that another woman had been sexually harassed by a passenger during a flight, I couldn’t help but feel even more disgusted than I did when I wrote my earlier post about the same topic. But as soon as I started digging into what happened, some things started to create noise.

I first found out about it via another blogger sharing a post the alleged victim published on her Facebook account. In it, she included the letter she wrote to Alaska Airlines, where the incident is said to have happened, where the VP of Airport Operations & Customer Service, the VP of In-Flight Services and the CEO are copied onto her letter. She describes to the detail what she alleges happened aboard her flight from Los Angeles to Mazatlan, in Mexico.

In her account, she describes her seat mate in first class immediately upon boarding started making lewd comments and asking inappropriate questions, as well as rating women who passed by as they were boarding. She indicates having informed the crew, who brushed off her concerns and informed her the passenger in question was a habitual passenger in this route who just ‘doesn’t have a filter’.

She insisted that she was extremely uncomfortable and was offered a seat at the back of the plane, which she declined, and as she remained on her seat, he continued being served alcohol and not correcting his behavior in any way.

Now, of course I was seeing her actual post on her Facebook account, so with very little intention of digging in, I realized she’s Randi Zuckerberg, who happens to be Mark Zuckerberg’s sister. She’s also -according to her Facebook profile- “An entrepreneur, investor, best selling author, radio host, speaker, television producer, tech media personality, and mom.” She has a following of around 150K people on Facebook and 190K people on Twitter. She is powerful, influential, and her net worth is apparently $250 million

In the Alaska Airlines case, it was the perfect storm. There was a crew that politely refused a seat reassignment in first class on the grounds that the cabin was full. Then there was the alleged harassment, to which the crew appropriately responded by offering to move the young lady’s seat to coach. Finally, you have her connection to a very powerful and influential business who happened to know the right people. If there had been harassment, charges would and should have been pressed, and the attacker would have been arrested upon arrival. 

Now, of course I DON’T ACTUALLY AGREE WITH THE ABOVE PARAGRAPH and it made me keep barfing in my mouth to have to type it, but it is an almost word-by-word copy of the commentary another blog published regarding a very similar incident that happened aboard an Air France flight. Unsurprisingly, the same author definitely made a 180 today when commenting about this more recent case on that same blog.  

Two well-connected women allege being the victims of sexual harassment in-flight and two very different outcomes.

The one where the victim is an American businesswoman who is successful and well-known is applauded for coming forward and speaking out, as it should be.

The other one, where the victim is from a third world country, is thought to be trying to take advantage of her connections to sneak into business or first class, because the idea of her actually being a victim of sexual harassment somehow seems completely inconceivable to some, and made even less plausible by the fact she was traveling in economy.

Time to check your bias, y’all.

Author: Ben Nickel-D'Andrea

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