Airline industry treats sexual assaults in the skies like an inconvenience, not a crime – USA Today

Excerpt of Article on

In April 2016, I was sexually assaulted on an overnight flight.

I awoke to a male passenger grabbing my crotch repeatedly. He hit and blocked me as I yelled “no,” slapped his hands and scrambled to get away and alert the crew. Despite my efforts, and to my shock, no action was taken by the airline to identify the attacker or report the incident to authorities. In the weeks that followed, my shock turned to anger and then to action as I discovered the gaps in awareness, training and data.

As a result of my experience, I am in an ongoing lawsuit with the airline. But it isn’t enough to work for justice for myself. We need industry standards to train airline staff and standardized ways to report and address instances of sexual assault in the skies.

I can’t provide exact numbers on how often assaults occur at 37,000 feet, and neither can airlines, the Federal Aviation Administration, the FBI, or anyone else — that’s a problem. The numbers we do have should be more than enough to spur real action, though.

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Learn more and take action regarding sexual harassment and assault on airlines:

  1. United Airlines has been placed on the 2019 Dirty Dozen List
  2. The Fly Free campaign addresses sexual harassment and assault on all airlines

The Numbers


NCOSE leads the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation with over 300 member organizations.


The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has had over 100 policy victories since 2010. Each victory promotes human dignity above exploitation.


NCOSE’s activism campaigns and victories have made headlines around the globe. Averaging 93 mentions per week by media outlets and shows such as Today, CNN, The New York Times, BBC News, USA Today, Fox News and more.



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