Flying can already be uncomfortable enough as airlines squeeze customers of all their legroom and cash and as security theater measures in airports make travelers feel like their rights and personal space are being violated more and more. Things could always be worse, and one passenger on an El Al flight knows that best after being sexually harassed as she flew from New York to Israel, the woman told Israel’s Army radio on Monday.
The incident, coming in the middle of the #MeToo movement, is a reminder that sexual harassment, especially against women, is still a rampant issue and one with a history in the airline industry, where often-intoxicated businessman could go way over the line with stewardesses long before the days of Harvey Weinstein’s accusers stepping forward, back decades ago. Even in 2018, it appears airplanes are yet another place where a woman minding her own business can be harassed for the amusement and empowerment of a man.
Her situation was made even worse when crew members wouldn’t help her change seats so she could at least spend the remainder of the flight feeling as comfortable as one could possibly feel on a long-haul flight. The staffers didn’t even show interest in helping to report the incident, according to Vos Iz Neias News.
“I was on a flight from New York to Israel,” the woman said. “I woke up with the feeling that someone was rubbing against me. I tried to move the person by force.”
A crew member did notice and come over, but that was about all the attention the woman got. “I began to cry in despair and she tried to convince me that the whole thing was a mistake,” she said. One other passenger on board showed his support and said he would help any way he could, including testifying on her behalf if that were ever necessary.
Another passenger approached her and said that he had witnessed what had happened and was ready to testify on her behalf. Some crew members did say something could be done when they landed but didn’t go much further than that.
“I feel like they did not help me, I’ll go to the police, but I don’t think anything will be resolved. But I’m very angry at El Al and how they reacted. I could not go through a day without thinking about it and not doing something,” she said.
“The passenger was treated during and after the flight with great sensitivity, the service manager took care of her personally and after the flight she was treated by the customer service who offered to accompany her and file a complaint with the police,” El Al said.
El Al will also soon have to deal with extra competition from United Airlines. The Jewish Voice has been reporting on this developing news.
Travelers wanting to take a trip to Tel Aviv will have three flights each week that can get them there from Dulles International Airport, with an expected launch date of May 22.
United already offers service to Israel from Newark and San Francisco, but the announcement marks the first time an American airline would provide service right from America’s capital. The greater area did once feature El Al flights that left from Baltimore-Washington International Airport a couple decades ago.
“As we begin celebrating 20 years of service in Israel, we want to thank our customers and employees who have helped make United the top US airline serving Israel,” United Airline’s Patrick Quayle said last week in a statement he issued.
By: Marie Poza