Another US Domestic Passenger Reports An In-Flight Sexual Assault

Jul 24, 2018

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A 23-year-old woman is speaking out after what she says was a sexual assault she suffered on board a Delta flight from Chicago to Los Angeles.

On June 16, Delany Luh says, she was on a Delta flight to her home in LA. She was in a middle seat between two men she didn’t know. “I ended up falling asleep and woke up to a drunk man with his hands down my leggings,” Luh wrote on Twitter.

After overcoming the shock of what was happening, Luh told local news station KTLA she yelled at the man to stop and tried to exit her seat. The man wouldn’t move, forcing her to climb over him to seek help. Luh said she escaped her seat and ran to the back of the plane.

Once she found a flight attendant to help her, Luh said she “grabbed her, and I hugged her, and I looked her in the eye and said, ‘Please, please help me,’” she told KTLA. The flight attendant found her a new seat for the remaining two hours of the flight. Delta arranged for one of its “red coat” employeed to escort Luh off the flight and to baggage claim at LAX.

According to the airline, Luh told agents after getting off the plane that her seat neighbor had actually touched her.

“The safety and security of our customers is our top priority and we do not tolerate the harassment or assault of any kind,” Delta told TPG in an emailed statement. “After deplaning, Ms. Luh first informed a Delta agent that she had been improperly touched on the leg by another passenger during her flight. Immediately upon learning this information, Delta reported the incident to local and federal law enforcement for their handling. We will continue to cooperate fully with the FBI in their investigation of this situation. We also reached out to Ms. Luh for more information on this incident.”

Despite the airline’s response, Luh told TPG she still felt “dismissed” by the carrier.

Luh says additionally, Delta gave her a $200 voucher as compensation for her ordeal. She now hopes that by talking about her incident, she can offer solidarity to fellow victims.

“I felt in my heart I needed to speak out because this has been happening way too much,” Luh wrote to TPG. “And my hopes in speaking out is to stop all of this and be that voice for other women or men.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said in June that reports of in-flight sexual assaults are increasing at an “alarming rate,” with the number of reported assaults growing 66% from 2014 to 2017. The FBI believes that the actual number of mid-air sexual assaults is much higher than what is actually reported. In 2017, the agency opened 63 in-flight sexual assault investigations.

“These acts are felonies, which can land an offender in prison for 10 years — or, if aggravated, to life,” the FBI’s Assistant Special Agent Brian Nadeau said.

The FBI advises any passenger who believes they have been sexually assaulted to tell a member of the flight crew.

Delta, and other airlines like Alaska, have faced similar issues before. Delta passenger Allison Dvaladze sued the airline for failing to follow through after her seatmate repeatedly assaulted her on an international flight in 2016. Another former Delta passenger sued the carrier as well, stating that when she reported a passenger who had repeatedly groped her, a flight attendant refused to intervene because the man held elite status with the airline.

TPG’s Katherine Fan contributed to this report. 

Featured image by Erik Witsoe / EyeEm / Getty Images.

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