Federal law prohibits sexual abuse on aircraft, but accurate reporting and support for victims often inhibit protocol. In fact, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2018, established a streamlined process for victims to report allegations of sexual misconduct. The FAA regulation part 121.421.ii requires flight attendants are trained in “passenger handling, in the case of deranged persons or other persons whose conduct might jeopardize safety.” It’s important to report an incident immediately.
If you are sexually assaulted on a plane, please follow the following tips for reporting.
What to do while on the plane:
- If you’re sexually assaulted on a plane, leave your seat as soon as possible and alert a crew member and/or press the call button to alert a crew member.
- Insist you be moved and refuse to return to your assigned seat upon landing.
- Make note of the full names of the flight crew to whom you disclosed your attack, especially if they’re less than helpful. (-Lawyer Julie Hancock of Your Virtual Aid)
- Demand that flight attendants make note of the identity of the alleged assailant. (- FBI)
Involve Law Enforcement
- Request that the captain report the incident to airport police. Upon landing, law enforcement should be waiting at the gate to determine if an incident is criminal.
- Law enforcement should detain and question the attacker. They’re supposed to notify the FBI, but if they don’t, call 1-800-CALL-FBI.
- Many U.S. airports have an FBI satellite office, so FBI agents may also be there upon landing.
Try and find ‘backup’ witnesses
- Law enforcement may require a witness to identify the suspect and testify. Request the flight crew to ask passengers if they saw the predator touching you, evidence of a struggle, or overheard anything during the assault.
- Ask if anyone videotaped the incident and try to obtain any footage (-Sexual harassment lawyer, Steven Azizi of Miracle Mile Law Group)