The recent wave of sexual harassment allegations is transforming the U.S. landscape and emboldening more every day to come forward with their stories. But such treatment, generally against women, persists…and some practices die hard. Like on Alaska Airlines…
I was so shocked when I read this story, but I shouldn’t be. I’ll explain why below.
Randi Zuckerberg, a Silicon Valley executive, said Wednesday evening that a male passenger on her Alaska Airlines flight had repeatedly sexually harassed her and that flight attendants had dismissed her complaints.
Zuckerberg was on a flight from Los Angeles to Mazatlán, Mexico.
Before the plane even departed the gate, a man seated next to her in first class asked her if she fantasized about a female colleague who was traveling with her, and then he provided vulgar commentary about the women who walked by him as they boarded.
I’ve included her full email to Alaska Airlines below, recounting the incident:
What happened when Zuckerberg reported the behavior?
Ms. Zuckerberg said that she and her colleague both reported the man’s behavior to the flight attendants, who, she added, shrugged off their complaints, saying that he was a frequent flier who was known to act that way.
Yes, her complaint was simply dismissed and the man was served more alcohol. At one point in the flight, the FA walked by the man and joked, “Are you behaving today?”
The FAs did offer something…to downgrade Zuckerberg and her colleague to economy class. That’s a great option…
Alaska Airlines in Panic Mode
After the story picked up steam, Alaska reacted quickly, suspending the “travel privileges” of the vulgar passenger. Alaska spokesman Ray Lane stated:
We want our guests to feel safe. As a company, we have zero tolerance for any type of sexual misconduct that creates an unsafe environment for our guests and crew members.
Doesn’t seem the like FAs received that memo…
I worked on the Hill and in the White House…and witnessed no sexual harassment. I spent three years in the U.S. Air Force Reserves and also witnessed nothing disturbing beyond locker room banter. Nothing in law law school, either. Or my other jobs. Perhaps I was just blind.
But I’ve flown over two million miles and I’ve certainly witnessed my fair share of sexual harassment there, always from male passengers. Inappropriate touching or gestures toward FAs. Check. Lewd remarks about passengers as they board, just like in the story above. Check. “Conquest” stories from an inebriated seatmate. Check.
It bums me out that I’ll likely never see Kevin Spacey again on screen or hear Garrison Keillor on the radio. They were two of my favorites and I also am against punishing people without a fair trial or adequate investigation.
But actions have consequences. What I’ve witnessed is something that goes on each and every day. And it is disgusting.
Alaska Airlines owes a huge apology to Ms. Zuckerberg. It is sad to think that had she been a passenger without such name recognition and public importance, the passenger likely would have continued have gone unpunished.
This is not an isolated issue. It a pervasive societal issue that indicates a deep moral problem and a disgusting lack of respect for others, all who are worthy of respect. We see the dominoes falling each day. I hope now that Alaska and all airlines will also take sexual abuse more seriously.