Tag: Airplane sexual abuse

airplane sexual abuse

Sexual Abuse on an Airplane — Really?

How many times have you settled into a seat on a plane and closed your eyes or plugged in your music and thought “This is great. No one to interrupt or bother me. . .I can relax now.”

We don’t want you to worry excessively, but maybe you should think twice about letting your guard down completely.

Assaults on airplanes seem to be growing.

In 2014, 38 cases of in-flight sexual assault were reported to the FBI. In 2017, that number increased to 63.



Why the increase? Some says it’s due to the increase in overnight flights, long-distance flights and flight attendants over-serving passengers alcohol.

Here’s more bad news:

Unlike many other industries, airlines do not have a legal mandate to report criminal activity, such as sexual assault. Cruise lines, for example, became required to report crimes to the FBI with the passage of the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010.

And on airplanes, “there is no singular definition of sexual misconduct, there is no federal or national definition, there is not mandate for reporting,” said Sunitha Menon, chief of consulting services operations at the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.

Sadly, if a passenger is assaulted or harassed in the air, “they have no official avenue to report the incident. A passenger might tell a flight attendant what happened, who may report it to the captain, who might tell a ground supervisor, who then may or may not report it to the police department of where the plane is landed.”

And then maybe the FBI will look into it.

“You have a four- or five-step process to get a proper investigation,” said Paul Hudson, president of Flyers Rights, an organization that represents airline passengers. “In most cases, nothing occurs. Through those steps, the plane has landed, people have left and the possibility for proper investigation, much less prosecution, is gone.”

The good news:

In 2018, the federal National In-Flight Sexual Misconduct Task Force was set up, consisting of 14 members from varying backgrounds and groups include airline representatives, Department of Justice directors and labor organization leaders.

It’s expected to issue a report soon.

But while reports, policies, education and such are helpful, when it comes to getting the attention of authorities and prompting real change, it’s hard to beat litigation. Lawsuits, depositions, discovery and publicity often prod and scare those with power into using their power to better protect the powerless.


Horowitz Law is experienced handling sexual abuse cases in a variety of settings ranging from the workplace to churches to school and even airplanes.  If you or someone you know has been a victim of a sexual assault on an airplane, please email attorney Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com or call our law firm at (954) 651-2100

Can a Lawsuit Be Filed for Sexual Abuse Aboard an Airplane?

Airplane Sexual lawsuit

A lot of terrible things can happen on an airplane.  But few passengers worry about a fellow passenger committing sexual assault.  Yet, statistics reveal a recent spike in reported sexual assaults in the least likely of places — the airplane.  The FBI has eveb issued a new warning to travelers about this horrific crime.

According to one federal official, “The attacks generally occur on long haul flights when the cabin is dark. The victims are usually in the middle or window seats. The victims are usually sleeping and covered with a blanket or jacket,” he said. In 2014, there were 38 cases of sexual assault aboard an aircraft was reported to the FBI nationally. In 2017, the number of reported cases jumped to 63.

A recent survey from the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), a union of 50,000 flight attendants representing 20 airlines, suggests that in-flight sexual assault allegations are reported to law enforcement less than half of the time. The AFA survey also found that one in five flight attendants has encountered a passenger-on-passenger in-flight sexual assault.  Surprisingly, the FAA doesn’t require any sexual-assault-specific training for flight attendants. Further complicating the reporting process, crimes committed on an airplane fall under federal jurisdiction (the FBI if you’re in the United States) but local law enforcement are typically the officers that will be called to the gate.

Attorney Adam Horowitz has filed claims on behalf of passengers who were sexually assaulted while traveling on airplanes and when traveling by train.  The offending passenger as well as the airline may both be legally responsible for this sexual misconduct in a lawsuit.  While your first priority as a victim or a witness should be to deal with the immediate situation and to speak with law enforcement, it’s also important to follow up with the airline afterward to make sure the incident is documented internally, as well.  If you or someone you know has been a victim of airplane sexual assault, please reach out to our  lawyers who are ready to fight for the justice you deserve.