Sexual harassment and assault during air travel are on the rise. FBI investigations into in-flight sexual assaults increased by 45% in 2016 over the year before. More seats crammed into planes and fewer flight attendants are contributing factors.
It isn’t fair to ask women to change their behavior to avoid this crime—that’s close to blaming the victim—but women who wish to take steps to minimize the danger do have options. These options are worth considering when traveling alone on long, overnight flights, where airline sexual assault is most common…
Book an aisle seat if possible. You’re more visible to flight attendants and fellow passengers on the aisle, making it more difficult for a sexual predator to target you without being seen.
React firmly to possibly accidental contact. Sexual predators sometimes employ “accidental” touching to test how much they can get away with. Firmly say, “Please do not touch me.”
If you get a bad vibe from a passenger in a neighboring seat—if, for example, he makes inappropriate remarks—get up and quietly ask a flight attendant if you can change seats.
Don’t leave your drink unsupervised. You would be especially vulnerable if someone slipped a “date rape” drug into your drink.
React loudly if you are groped. This typically stops the predator by attracting the attention of nearby passengers. Then tell a flight attendant what you want done—do you want to move to a different seat? Do you want the perpetrator moved to a different seat? Do you want to press charges? Conflicts on aircraft typically are handled by separating the people involved—and the misconduct is reported to law enforcement.