Lone female travellersBack to Forum
Anonymous24 Feb 2014
My employer has asked me to be the company’s Lone Female Traveller Champion, the first tasks are writing policy and a presentation. With the numbers of female business and leisure travellers increasing, I have found little or no information available from airlines through their websites and even less when I contact their customer service departments.
I realise this could open a can of worms, but just how do cabin crew deal with the awkward issue of a lone female passenger being harassed during a flight. Female traveller blog sites contain a few passenger experiences, but I would like to get the industry view. Apologies to any guys who feel offended, I realise it could happen to you too!24 Feb 2014
It’s an issue that has presented itself a few times in my near 20-years of flying. The incidences have ranged from ‘the guy next to me won’t stop talking to me’ to allegations of being groped/physically interfered with.
I’d say 90% of the situations involved an excess of booze and a drunk passenger. So as they say, prevention is the best cure and the crew would probably be subtly aware of a passenger starting to get a bit rowdy and refuse to serve them more drink.
If a lone female passenger is being harassed she should immediately notify the cabin crew. Obviously our first intention would be to re-seat the lady. If the flight was full we would swap the lady’s seat with a male staff passenger. Again, depending on the specific allegation, we could involve the authorities.
The last situation I had to deal with like this was over Christmas. I was working a flight back from Texas and a male passenger came into the galley in the middle of the night to say he had been woken up by a ‘wet feeling’ on his ear and discovered it was the tipsy lady sat next to him licking his ear! He said the whole flight she had been drinking booze from her own bottle of duty free and mucking about with the divider screen. She would continually lower it, he would raise it again. We had spare seats so moved the gentleman. We went to speak to the lady and told her it was unacceptable to interfere with another passengers rest and that we would keep a hold of her own drink until we landed and she wouldn’t be served any more during the flight.24 Feb 2014
I’ll tread carefully here to avoid moderator disapproval .
Although I agree with rferguson – 24/02/2014 14:08 GMT whereby am sure the crew will assist. If you were to use a “non-Western” carrier (ex CX & SQ) you may not get the support you wish.
Basically in some Male orientated and those more honorific attuned cultures, a crew member, whether cabin or flight, may not wish to confront the ne’er do well.
So PoshGirl would advise sticking to Western Carriers +CX, SQ if at all possible, especially ones with a limo/chauffer service which checks you through. Similarly use hotels with a limo service included if slightly concerned.24 Feb 2014
I work alongside crew that have worked for many of the eastern airlines…some with stories that would make anyone shudder.
The standouts to me are JAL and ANA (both employ western LHR based crew that work alongside their Japanese colleagues). Due to the sex and race hierarchy amongst the Japanese as well as the way they deal (or not deal) with confrontation I’ve been told by colleagues that the female cabin crew themselves were often targets of ‘harassment’.
The eastern carriers definitely do not follow the ‘PC’ lines of recruitment of airlines in the western world. It’s not a fluke that male cabin crew at the likes of JAL, ANA, CX, SQ et al make up around 10% of crew numbers. The most important passengers to these carriers are businessmen in their home markets. The businessmen would rather be served by pretty young ladies. I say this also with trepidation but when you look at the crew of these airlines you can’t really deny it. When JAL set up it’s London base initially it was only to recruit female westerners. It wasn’t until it was threatened with court for sex discrimination that it started recruiting the few token males. Although these were generally given ‘galley duties’.24 Feb 2014
Apart from the issue of harassment, which I accept is in the main an issue for single female travellers – there are many other issues that could equally affect males as females. Not wishing to hijack the thread, but I have given the link to a thread which could be of interest.
I am quite fortunate to go to several destinations often and this has enabled me to create quite a large circle of friends, which is especially useful when I have free weekends.
I look forward to seeing how this interesting and important discussion develops.24 Feb 2014
This is a good topic. I have had my share of guys taking the shot at a usually it is just by staring or riding up behind you on boarding when after the plane has landed and you are removing your stuff from the overhead locker. The last time this happened to me I had to move seats to a lower cabin. I find Asian men are the worst especially if you are Caucasian. Once travelling alone to HKG and was being hassled by a guy in a hotel after putting in a complaint the hotel’s general manager called me and said he had told security and staff to look out for me and told me to report any problems with guests and visitors. One night I was allowed me to use the gym all to myself and had been personally escorted by a member of security and stayed with me while I worked out then escorted me back to my suite.
Spoke to a cabin crew friend (female) on this topic and thankfully she has never had to endure this sort of behaviour but has heard horror stories. She also said she takes her profession seriously and it’s absolutely not ok when receiving service on a respected airline that they think it’s ok to take advantage of the situation! And if that ever happened at my work they would be barred for life and more!!
Thankfully my business travel days are now numbered for the foreseeable future.24 Feb 2014
Great thread and I truly empathise, I was on a EK flight LGW-DUX and had got to my seat had put my luggage in the overhead locker and watched with pleasure as the normal rush of people tried to put all their belongings into the lockers.
There was a lovely British Stewardess who I had flown with before we had recognised each other trying to help and was losing badly with the amount of stuff people bring with them these days!
Just as the doors were about to close the loud couple got on ( won’t say where they were from but they are not the only ones in my opinion) and started demanding of the stewardess to move luggage so they could put their stuff! There was no where to put anything and then he got abusive and was totally out of order, I could not believe the vitriol he spewed at the poor girl! I held my tongue until he got up and started to move towards moving my stuff from the locker, at this point I stood up and verbally abused him back about how rude he had been and how it was not her fault..
As all bullies he sat back in his chair and didn’t say a word and I smiled at the stewardess and she mouthed thank you.
When the flight had taken off the in flight supervisor came towards me and I thought I was in trouble, however they moved me from the bowels of despair in the back up to first class and told me of the abuse the girls suffer from many of the nationalities they get…..
Great thread I hope you never have to come across that level of vile language and intent …24 Feb 2014
Bigdog and rferguson +1
Agree absolutely. Also have to take into account the cultural differences, especially with Japan. What we may refer to as “harassment” may be considered tradition or the norm in said country.
Goldielox +1 also
I completely understand your stance. It isn’t just your job, it’s your livelihood and way of life for you. You are trying to do your job and regardless of being male/female no one should be put under that kind of pressure whilst working, also regardless of what position you are in.
There is no place for it!24 Feb 2014
Sorry I might not have made myself clear. I didn’t mean to term “cultural differences” as an excuse, more so a reason as to why it may happen at times.
But yes, I fully agree there is no excuse.24 Feb 2014
I’ve witnessed this type of thing several times. Looking at the men I’m just amazed they think anyone would fall for them. I know looks are not everything, but they seem to have no personality either!!!24 Feb 2014
Over the years I have witnessed many situations where things have gone to guys heads. I am on a business trip, I have had some champagne, I’m important, so, despite wearing a polyester shirt and a chain store suit, I am irresistible…………
It makes me feel really sorry for the recipient, and a bit embarrassed to be a male.
As per a previous comment, humiliation is the best way of neutralising the problem.24 Feb 2014
This is really interesting, especially in the light of the recent news about a man being banned from a UK hilton for harassing behaviour:
I would go about this as I would go about auditing any other aspects of a business for inclusion as an approved supplier. (I work in Quality). Since a company is potentially liable if a supplier or supplier employee harasses one of your own employees this is a serious business and should be treated as such.
I think the goal here is to create a approved provider list for travel services that all employees use to select providers. The very fact that you are doing this should demand some respect and response from providers. I would then write to providers stating you are compiling this list, including how much money is spent on travel and asking for complies of harassment policies applicable to both staff and customers. I would also want to see evidence that staff are trained in these policies.
A little bit of legwork but it should be effective not only in protecting your employees, both male and female.
Beyond this it is then up to you to ensure that your employees are aware of the approved list and aware that these providers have policies that can be called upon if necessary.
Given how poorly some providers are reputed to treat their staff I’d be interested to see who made it onto the list.24 Feb 2014
Poshgirl – one thing to bear in mind about the policy is that it’s not going to be effective unless your employer puts cash and resource behind it to implement it and it’s got to be something that’s rolled out to male colleagues as well so that they can understand their behaviour. I’m not having a go at any of the chaps here – I’m sure you’re all lovely – but it’s just that there’s nothing more irritating as a woman to be told all the ways that I can stop an attack helping when half the battle is just teaching men not to be inappropriate in the first place.
On a more practical level, I travel on my own all the time and if I’m travelling on business then it would greatly put my mind at rest if I was met by someone locally – either a paid for car service or the local fixer on the ground. When I was working in Africa early in my year, I always insisted on having the local contact meet me at the airport – yeah it costs a bit more but it meant I wasn’t stressing about getting a cab afterwards.
I’ve only ever had one close encounter of the unwelcome kind of a plane – again, a business trip to Africa where I was sitting next to a guy who tried to impress me with his job title and business card. I smiled politely and then went to chat to the FA for a bit. I’d thought he got the message but no – turned out he was also staying in my hotel and one evening he came up to me in a bar and offered me several hundred dollars to “party” with him for a bit. I declined in unladylike words of four letters and the concierge came to my rescue and escorted him back to his room.
For that reason, it’s worth considering hotels as well – I tend to state a preference for rooms on lowish levels near the lifts so I’m not stuck down any long, winding corridors.
1F24 Feb 2014