8/25 An Open Letter to Spirit Airlines

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On August 23rd, I took redeye flight number 732 from LAX to ORD, and sat in seat 9E.

I was seated between two men. On the aisle-side was a 50-something year old man named Jim. We exchanged pleasantries, and I learned that, after a layover in Chicago, his final destination was Detroit where he would be attending a high school reunion.

10 minutes into the flight, a kid in the seat directly in front of me began vomiting. The vomit ran down through the seat and into my footwell, soaking my handbag and carry-on items in vomit. The crew was very nice about it, but noted the flight was full and there was nowhere to relocate me. There was nothing they could do but cover the mess with plastic and coffee grounds to mask the smell. That got the flight off on a less-than-comfortable note, to start. But that was nothing compared to what came next.

Later into the flight, I fell asleep. I awoke at one point to feel Jim’s hand… high on my upper, inner thigh. I thought it possible that it slipped down there while he was asleep, given the narrow nature of the seats on the craft, so I moved my leg away and went back to sleep. A while later, I awoke to find him pressed up against my arm, one hand on my leg, the other hand fumbling around my breasts.

I was terrified, and didn’t know how to respond. Stuck in the middle seat on a nearly silent, dark flight in the middle of the night, I was paralyzed with confusion and fear. I startled physically, hard enough that he removed his hands and shifted away. I couldn’t bring myself look at him. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I didn’t know how to get out of my seat and past him to signal for help, and I knew from the earlier vomit incident that there was nowhere to move me anyway. I stayed awake and on-guard for the remainder of the flight, to keep him from making another attempt to grope me in my sleep. I tried to work up the courage to approach the flight crew or gate security, but (and this is something that you’d never fully understand unless you’ve been assaulted) that kind of violation and fear often leaves victims too stunned and shocked to take immediate action.

As soon as my parents picked me up from the airport, I told them what happened and immediately called Spirit Airlines to file a complaint. Knowing Jim was only on a layover, I needed to make certain that the crew of his connecting flight to Detroit (and subsequent return flight to LAX) were notified, so that he could be carefully monitored and above all, not seated next to any other women for their own protection.

The customer service representative that I reached listened to my story, and responded, as if reading from a script: “I am sorry for the inconvenience, but because you failed to report it in-flight, there is nothing we can do for you.”

To reduce the sexual assault of a passenger on one of your crafts to (as your agent referred to it) “an inconvenience” is offensive and demeaning in ways that words cannot begin to describe. To characterize my inability to speak up in the moment as a “Failure” is insensitive and cruel.

He then went on to coldly inform me that there was no recourse possible on their end, since they only handled reservations. I asked to speak to a manager – in fact I had to ask to speak to a manager four separate times before he agreed to transfer me – and the manager told me the exact same thing. No compassion, no sympathy. No concern for my safety or the safety of your other passengers. No offer to help me reach the appropriate department within the airline to get assistance. Only a cold, detached repeated transference of the blame to me, for not immediately speaking up. Blaming the victim. Super classy.

I requested to know the full name of my attacker, which I’m sure could have been easily retrieved from the flight manifest and seat assignment, so I could file a police report. I was told to contact the TSA because they were “the only people who could access that information or handle this incident”.

I asked to be connected with the O’hare Spirit counter, so that, for their safety and the safety of the other passengers, I could warn them about this passenger before his connecting flight – and I was again refused and referred back to the TSA. Both Spirit representatives with whom I spoke continued to insist that I made a mistake by not immediately reporting it, and showed no concern for my well-being or for fellow passengers that may yet be assaulted by the same man. I could not believe it.

I reached the TSA, who showed at least a modicum of compassion, but also said they only handle issues regarding entrance through airport security, and thus referred me to the Aviation Consumer Protection and Enforcement Agency (with whom I plan to file a formal complaint against Spirit for their lack of concern for passenger safety). After being bounced around on several more calls, I finally landed in touch with the airport police and filed an official report. Oh, and guess what? The police were completely understanding of my inability to immediately report the assault, and showed great compassion for my plight and urgency in bringing justice to the situation. FINALLY.

Meanwhile, I took to twitter, in the hopes that Spirit’s social media customer service representative would provide some better support and an in-road to making the crews on any future flights on which my assaulter is booked aware of the situation. The response I got? “Sorry to hear about your situation. You’ll need to file a complaint with the police, however.”

What about the fact that this passenger was going on to fly at least twice more in the coming weeks, including immediately following my flight? What about the fact that allowing him to fly, unsupervised, puts other passengers like me or your own employees at risk? What about the fact that sexual assault is a crime? What about customer service? What about decency? or compassion?

It took 6 full hours of an incredible outpouring of support from my twitter community before I received @Spirit_Helper’s revised response and invitation to email you. Six full hours in which thousands of your customers demanded better action on the part of your company. Demanded protection and justice on behalf of your passengers. Demanded boycotts of your airline due to your apparent lack of concern and your unbelievably cold responses. SIX HOURS to get a reaction that showed Spirit had even the slightest interest in understanding the situation better.

(It is also worth noting that @Spirit_Helper deleted her first response to me, about filing a police report, which only goes to show that she or someone at her office recognized how insensitive and irresponsible it was.)

I know it is not Spirit Airline’s fault that I was assaulted on your plane. But it is your responsibility, once made aware that there is a dangerous traveler in your midst, to take whatever steps necessary to ensure the protection of your passengers. It is your responsibility to help a customer who was violated on your plane make contact with the people who can assist her in reaching the right departments who can help. It is your responsibility to warn your crews that a sexual predator is boarding their plane. It is your responsibility to show even an ounce of compassion, and not blame the victim, but instead focus on a solution.

It pains me to think how much worse this could be. What if I had been raped on your plane? Would it have been this hard to receive any support from your company? What if I didn’t have a huge social media following who would mobilize on my behalf to incite Spirit’s social media rep to action? The lack of concern and urgency regarding my safety and the safety of your passengers and crew is astoundingly irresponsible and shameful on the part of your company.

As you can tell, I am no longer afraid to speak up about what happened to me, and I am prepared to go to the media if that’s what it takes to get a real response from Spirit Airlines about how poorly this situation was handled by your representatives, and how little concern you have for your passengers’ safety.

In refusing to protect your passengers, you enable the offender.

So… what are you going to do about it?

The Broke-Ass Bride
Dana is the head woman in charge here, the original Broke-Ass Bride. Learn more about her here. And, follow her on Twitter (@brokeassbride), Pinterest (@brokeassbride), Facebook (/thebrokeassbride) and Instagram (@brokeassbride). Affiliate links, which might be included in the post above, help make her a few dollars here and there to keep her off the streets and in the business of blogging for your ass. So thanks for coming! :)
  • Bubbles

    Oh my god. Dana, I am so sorry that happened to you. I hope that they catch this man, and that Spirit responds appropriately to your complaint. Personally, since they failed to do that in the first place, I am disinclined to use their services at any point in the future.

    • Willie Wonka

      Spirit is terrible. They treat dying vets like pond scum. They need to be closed down.

  • YOU. GO. GIRL. Go to CNN- they'll take this story right away. I cannot believe the neglect and utter disregard for customer service Spirit AIr showed you; trust that I will NEVER fly with them. Let your loyal Twitter followers know if there's anything else you need help bringing attention to regarding your plight- we're all only too willing to assist.

    On another note, I am so glad to hear that you aren't afraid to speak out. Guys like Jim count on their prey being too scared, too intimidated to say anything.

  • OH MY GOD! I can't believe this happened to you! How did I even miss this on Twitter?? I'm so, so sorry you had to go through that. I hope Spirit and your assailant are punished properly!

  • Allie H

    I'm proud of you. Proud of you for speaking up. Proud of you for not letting it go. Proud of you for standing up for your rights and demanding a better response, and accountability. I'm incredibly sorry this whole thing happened to you. It's inexusable – every last second of it.

  • Come on gang, let's scour the interwebs for Detroit area high school reunions. We can find this guy!

    • Krista

      How great would it be if he were shamed at his reunion? Of course, he may not have even been honest about his destination

    • Taylor

      Mumford High School in Detroit celebrated their 50th class anniversary this past weekend. I'll see if I can't find a Jim or a James (in case Jim is a nickname) in that class….

    • Taylor

      There are no Jims but there are five James in the 1961 class reunion of Mumford High in Detroit. Working on getting pictures….

    • Taylor

      Also, Chippewa Valley High School had their 30th reunion this past weekend as well – their facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/groups/191899054184999/

      People have posted lots of pictures, but I'm still searching for names. This seems like a better choice based on the 50th something age range we're looking for.

    • Taylor

      Three different Jims are members of the Chippewa Valley 30th Reunion page (class of 1981). All three have profile pictures!!!

  • We are 110% behind you as this is an absolute OUTRAGE of any company and airline. It disgusts me to know that this even happened — and then to have them bounce you around and blame YOU – the victim! My stomach turns at the very thought. Spirit is a disgrace to their industry – one that should pride themselves on customer service & passenger safety! Hopefully this man did not go on to do this same horrific act to another passenger. Either way, they’ve surely lost me from ever boarding one of their airlcrafts again! Stay strong though and know that while Spirit certainly wasn’t keen to supporting you? The Social Media world absolutely is!! <3

  • Stacey K.

    Incredibly well-written letter…bravo to you for speaking out! I'm sure we'd all LIKE to think that we'd be able to speak up at the time of the incident, but I can only imagine how difficult that is when the creep is sitting right beside you! It's so discouraging that customer service has become virtually extinct, but great that social media helps us to put the unsympathetic losers on blast! Good luck!!

  • Dana, we are all so proud of you for speaking up. After so many negative responses from Spirit a lot of people would have given up. I hope this opens their eyes. I will be sharing your story on my blog and every social networking site I am part of.

  • I can't even stand it. When I get home, I will be linking to this from my blog. What happens now? Are they actually doing anything, or is this it? Do they have any followup? I am livid for you and for everybody else that this kind of thing happens to. What is WRONG with people! I am really, really, mad and so sorry that this happened to you.

  • hollenbrau

    I'm with MaPo — let's find this fucker and tell the world what piece of SHIT he is!!!!

  • Janelle

    Dana, I am so sorry to hear about this awful situation. I can not begin to imagine how I would react to a similar situation and I commend you for taking such actions to draw attention to this terrible crime and the complete lack of assistance provided to you by the airline where it occurred.

  • lyn

    Everything Stacey said up there. No one can understand the utter terror and confusion in the moment until it happens to them. And I can't believe it happened to you. You have our support!

  • that is absolute

  • that is absolute c-rap. I totally know what you mean about not reporting it…it’s a weird thing that we do. You’re so right…what if you HAD been raped? Or what if he had stabbed you, and you lived, and didn’t report it ’til later? I wonder if they would have handled it differently. Never flying on that airline.

  • This is ridiculous. I reshared on Facebook in order to mobilize the masses. It's horrible that a person would do such a thing, but it's downright appalling a company would react in such a scornful manner. They should be ashamed and I hope they suffer a ridiculous downfall from this.

  • MaPo, that's actually a really good idea…

    I both gagged and cried a little reading your letter. I'm shivering thinking about your experience – lost for words. So I can't even begin to possibly imagine how you felt when you were assaulted, and when you were blown off for help. I know nothing will make you forget, and I know flying will never be the same for you ever again. But for you to be thinking of OTHERS at the time you were unable to think of much, is commendable. Good on you girl.

  • i'm so so glad you fought and reported it. that you didn't back down. i'm so sorry you had that experience. it makes me sick.

  • Wow, this is so crazy! I applaud you for your courage to write this and get it out.

  • PLB

    I was sorry to read this story, and yes, that was a very bad situation but did you think to press the button overhead for the steward to come to your seat and let the airline know about what had happened?
    Now they want you to go through all this red tape &
    B>S> best of luck on future flights.

    • Bubbles

      Are you serious? Did you not just read the post where it specifically says that victim-blaming is not classy? In case you didn't realize it, that's exactly what you're doing.

    • Vee

      A similar situation happened to me on a bus once ten years ago. I always thought I would be one to speak up, but I did not. It's hard to envision how you'll feel when it DOES happen to you. It's more difficult to speak up than it sounds, and the feelings that go along with such an experience are difficult to describe. Have to agree with Bubbles on this one.

      Dana, I'm disgusted that this happened to you, and equally disgusted with Spirit Airlines' poor response to it. I am, however, glad you're speaking up now! Get 'em, girl.

    • Nikkidd

      Yes, because telling the flight attendant that the man next to you assaulted you, WHILE STILL SITTING NEXT TO THE MAN WHO ASSAULTED YOU sounds like the easiest thing in the world to do.

    • Dmf

      I too am sorry you were groped by a nasty old SOB…but ya should have pressed that button….I agree with PLB. Scream bloody murder from the start….

  • PLB

    I was sorry to read this story, and yes, that was a very bad situation but did you think to press the button overhead for the steward to come to your seat and let the airline know about what had happened?
    Now they want you to go through all this red tape &
    B>S> best of luck on future flights.

  • Wow, is all I can say about this. I think I would be paralyzed with shock as well. I'm so glad you are saying something and I hope this guy can be found before he attacks again!

  • Ugh, this post made my stomach turn. May I join the growing list of people to express my sympathy that you had to go through that Dana. And aside from having to go through it which is heinous enough, to have your complaints treated with such disregard. Having been a victim of an assault myself, I can totally sympathize with your inability to say something immediately. It took me a long time to be able to tell anyone about what happened to me, so kudos to you for having the courage to tell your parents and to ultimately take on the airline. Your desire to act to protect another woman from experiencing that kind of trauma is truly heroic. Well done.

  • Wow. What a horrifying experience! My husband and I fly Spirit regularly between LAX and Detroit (as he is originally from Michigan), and while I've never really enjoyed the airline by any means, I always suffered through it because of their slightly lower prices. However, after reading this letter, I will NEVER fly with Spirit again just to save a few bucks. Thank you for sharing your experience – I can't even imagine going through something like that, and then being treated so terribly afterward. It's totally unacceptable, completely awful and I hope that other women take your experience into account and think twice about booking with Spirit the next time they go to book a flight. I know that I will.

  • This is so so horrible. I hope that this creep of a guy is held responsible for what he did. Thank you for being brave enough to fight for what's right!

  • Love you! Proud of you for speaking up. Mobilize your following and make those fuckers wish they'd never brushed you off like that. How dare they. Glad you're OK, Dana, I know how hard it can be to vocalize victimization. Sending you good thoughts, always.


  • http://news.change.org/stories/spirit-airlines-fa

    Oh Spirit… Still making the same mistakes.

  • Amy

    I am so sorry this happened to you, Dana, but I am so glad you are speaking out. Spirit Airlines, shame on you! We will NOT be flying this airline. EVER.

  • sara

    This is just disgusting. I'm so sorry that happened to you and the airline just blew you off! When I saw a tweet that you were assaulted I thought some crazy person smacked you, which is still not right at all, but to hear that someone touched you inappropriately that just makes me sick. I hope the police can help you further and I wish I could help more to get your story out there and put Spirit Airlines on blast on national media. Sending hugs.

  • I'm so sorry this happened to you…and so disgusted. Good for you having courage and speaking up.

  • I'm so proud of you for speaking up. As the wife of an airline pilot (not at Spirit, thankfully), it sickens me to hear of their poor customer service and lack of compassion for you, let alone any passenger. Sending you lots of good juju.

  • M.F.

    I know how you feel. I was sexually harassed at work for several months when I was younger. I was afraid to say anything because I didn't think anyone would believe me and because I thought that it may make the situation even worse if management didn't take action. Unless you're in the situation you can't understand why women don't speak up. I guarantee it happens WAY more than it's reported and it's because of the lack of response from people of authority (that should be there to protect you) that continues to keep women quiet and this type of behavior to continue.

  • Omg Dana just read those:-( shocked.really.I don’t really know what to say …

  • Jen

    That is horrifying. I'm so sorry. Good for you for speaking up AT ALL – many victims don't, or can't. Clearly that airline is run by a bunch of anti-woman douchecanoes. I'll be warning all my friends and family never, ever to use their service. Thank you so much for sharing your story to protect others, Dana.

  • Stacy

    Contact Consumerist and send them this blog post. This sounds like a story that deserves to be heard by as many people as possible!!

  • Yvette

    Oh this is horrible!! But i applaud you for taking action!! I fly very often for work and often brag to anyone that will listen how i am able to sleep on a red eye – NOW – i am going to do my best to stay awake and be more aware of my surroundings. Especially since we know at least ONE pervert is still out there!!!!!

  • My heart is breaking for you. I am so sorry you must endure this trial. I add my outrage and resolve to the many here and I am behind you 100%. I applaud you for sharing your story.

  • Victoria

    Ugh, awful. Something very similar happened to me at a movie theater (YEARS ago). I just scooted away from him, leaning over onto one of my friends. He got up and left, I followed him out and watched him walk out through the lobby. Only after he was done I told the kids who were working at the concession stand. I truly didn't even believe it was happening; I thought I must be misunderstanding something (even though this guy had his pants down and was… you know).

    So, yeah, to folks who wonder why Dana didn't just stand up and yell "This guy is molesting me!" – it's too much cognitive dissonance, too hard to understand what's happening to you in the moment. People don't just touch other people (and themselves) in public, right? I couldn't get my head around it fast enough to object.

  • Dana, on behalf of all of us here at Koyal and your thousands of loyal followers, we're deeply saddened that 1. you've had to endure such an event but also, 2. you've had to endure the horrible service and inconsiderate treatment that a victim should not be subjected to. It churns my stomach to think of what might have happened if you had been in the bathroom instead of your seat. It begs the question, however, how is it that this way happening and not a single person next to you or in the aisle way noticed?! Something definitely need to be changed and we're proud of you for seeing to it that it does.

  • Just saying

    How much did you expect Spirit to do, honestly? As soon as you left the flight, it becomes your word against his. Spirit — or any airline — faces huge liabilities if they were to do anything with this male passenger with nothing but your post-flight word to justify their actions. And way to assume this guy would assault another female passenger on his connecting flight. Ever think he might assault a male passenger or a child?

    What do you want Spirit to do now? Do you want them to screen all passengers for history of sexual assault before boarding? Should potential passengers be subject to a criminal background check before purchasing a ticket? And how exactly would a steward or stewardess "monitor" a suspicious individual?

    And perhaps the customer service agent was just as terrified as you were after hearing about this situation (because how often do customer service agents hear about sexual assaults during flights?) and didn't want to exacerbate the situation with the wrong language. Perhaps "inconvenience" was the best term he could muster up at the time. Perhaps he was "sticking to the script" to avoid any further liability. Eventually you did get to the police, right? (Which btw, the Spirit Twitter account was right. Again, do you want Spirit to file charges on your behalf with little evidence to back up the entire claim? Or do you go through a law enforcement agency to properly prosecute a dangerous man who just happened to be on the same flight as you?)

    Sorry Spirit was so cold toward you, but your anger should be directed toward Jim and not the airline.

    • partiesbykristen

      I think it would be a great idea for those who have committed sexual assault to be screened. They have to register as sex offenders so that their communities are aware of it, why not while flying? Why should I be subjected to some perv who might violate me or others in the anonymous confines of a plane? Your commentary is highly insensitive and shows a lack of compassion and understanding regarding sexual assault and the psychology of such events. That you defend the actions of a corporation that so blatantly disregarded passenger safety at the altar of consumerism is disturbing.

    • Our anger should also be directed at Spirit. The LEAST they could have done was let the crew of Jim's connecting flight know what had happened so they could at a minimum keep an eye open and possibly protect an innocent passenger. It makes me sick to think what happened to the poor person who say next to him on that connecting flight.

      • justanotherpov

        Or, our anger should be directed at the poster. The LEAST she could've done was alert the flight attendants of this sexual predator and saved other women from being violated.

        It makes me sick the OP didn't speak up.

        Also, as a non-sequitor, since we're already discussing taboos: I bet a silver dollar the OP isn't Black or Latina. Those ladies would've beat Jim's ass on the spot.

        • SCO

          justanotherpov (who I suspect is also Just Sayin),
          I'm sorry that you are so ignorant. Are you suggesting that black and/or Latina women are not raped at all because every single time they 'beat someone's ass on the spot'? Clearly, you are delusional.

        • lizcharm

          Dana is the original poster, and her picture is right up there, so no, she's not Black or Latina, but speaking as the black chick on staff, seriously with that comment?? Way to hold up the ignorance and intolerance banner there, kid.

        • Bubbles

          See this comment? This is classic victim-blaming, and it's disgusting. It's also racist, and completely misses the entire point.

        • Also –

          Why did you not look him in the eye and tell him to stop? Why?? It's unfortunate that it happened, but if you want someone to take action, you need to speak up when the offensive act happens. What do you expect the crew to do once you're off the flight? What do you hope to get out of confronting them now that the unfortunate events are over,? The sad reality is that there's little that can be done?

          I would suggest visiting a therapist to determine why, exactly, you are so incredibly terrified of standing up for youself.

        • normag

          WTF! I wonder what u would really do and feel if this happened to u. This is disgusting!

    • Jleigh

      No, companies have the responsibility to protect their customers and employees from harm. This is not a case of screening someone before they buy a ticket, the airline received information about an assault that took place on their aircraft and they did nothing which makes them negligent. If this man committed another assault on a later flight they would be liable because they were informed of what had just taken place and chose not to act.

      Their response to Dana is terrible and would be terrible even if it had been a less serious customer complaint. It shows extremely poor service and little regard for the well-being of their passesngers.

      Your attitude is exactly why most women do not report their assaults at all and why of those that are few people are charged and fewer convicted. This is despite the fact that the percentage of false reports are the same as for other crimes (around 2 – 3%).

    • PlsThinkClearly

      Maybe "Just Saying" could have said it in a more sensitive way, but I actually agree with a lot of what she was saying. What that guy did was absolutely disgusting and he should definitely PAY for that, but at the same time Spirit is not a law enforcement agency. They don't have the authority to charge someone with assault and arrest people, especially not on one person's claim. They would get sued big time if they go around restraining people, flagging them as sexual predators or pulling them off the plane just based on one person's claim. They're just a company, they're not the police. I don't understand these posters that are saying Spirit should put a red-flag on the guy or label him a criminal… I mean obviously he is a disgusting person, put can you imagine if we lived in a world where you could be charged guilty to a crime just because some stranger SAID so? There has to be laws and processes put in place so that people are charged JUSTLY. This is why a company can't just come in and start charging people as guilty. They need to involve the police and the police need to handle it with proper protocol. That said, there are a hundred ways Spirit could have handled it better. They should have been more compassionate, they should have given you more direct answers on how to file a complaint to the police, they shouldn't have transferred you all over the place taking 6 hours of your time. That's ridiculous. But I do understand how they can't really start hunting down a guy now after the flight is over and he's out of the plane. Maybe the phone rep didn't mean to blame you, he just meant to say that it was out of their hands since they can only control what happens during their flights. But I don't doubt he probably said it in a horrible and insensitive way. Anyway, it really was a terrifying thing you had to go through, I'm so sorry. But I just wanted to put that other perspective out there just because I feel like we often get so caught up in emotions we often demand retribution from places that can't really give us any. Just my humble opinion.

      • Bubbles

        I imagine Spirit would not be getting nearly this amount of backlash if they hadn't essentially said, "Well, we COULD have done something if you had spoken up sooner, but since YOU didn't, it's your fault this happened and we're not going to help you." That's blaming Dana for the situation, and it's wrong.

        Honestly, what could they have done on the original flight that they couldn't do while he was on their connecting flight?

        Passenger safety is the responsibility of the airline. Spirit really seems to be dropping the ball here. At the very least, they should have said, "Here's the number for the proper authroities. Contact them ASAP, and we'll guarantee our full cooperation with the investigation."

        What's so difficult about that?

    • Just to add to what everyone else is replying with- saying she should be mad at Jim and not Spirit Airlines is looking at this situation in a vacuum, as if sexual assault is only ever isolated incidences, not something that happens thanks to institutions that allow it, as well as rape culture at large. Hate to break it to you, but these kinds of things aren't really that isolated. They happen, frequently, because our culture allows it. If we don't get better at stopping them (and if we can't rely on the legal system and businesses who we're customers of to help), then it won't end. That old feminist saying that "the personal is political" applies here.
      She has every right to be mad at BOTH. First, at the guy for assaulting her because that's screwed up and a complete violation of her body and self. But she also has the right to be angry at a company, who as a private company, I believe probably DOES have the right to refuse service, for not helping her after the fact. If you've never been groped (or worse) by a stranger, you have no idea how hard it is to speak up or do anything about the situation when you know you should.

    • Krista

      An assault like this is ALWAYS your word against the perpetrator's. They don't have cameras on the plane. So how is reporting 20 minutes after the flight any different than reporting on the flight? They can't PROVE it without the camera.

    • SpiritAsYourProxy

      Sorry, but I agree with just sayin….. You did not go to the police, nor the airline at the time it happened. It is your word against his, and you wanted the airline to take action against someone based on your word alone, without you having filed a police report. They cannot do this. They cannot take the lead in initiating action against someone just because you phoned them. They cannot be your proxy.
      Your anger is misdirected……………..

      • Carey

        Are you really missing how after experiencing what amounts to sexual assault, and knowing there were no open seats for her to move to, that she might have been too embarrassed or frightened to report it? That it's possible they wouldn't have believed her even if she spoke up instantly and she would have had to sit by him the whole time in a dark, enclosed plane?

        Are you actually this stupid?

        • She didn't report it at the time. She didn't report it when the flight landed. She didn't report it when she was safely in the terminal. She didn't say ANYTHING to ANYONE until she PHONED THEM AFTER SHE HAD LEFT THE AIRPORT!
          Spirit can't "keep an eye on someone" based on a random phone call from an outside line long after a flight has ended. They also can't give Dana the guy's name, WHICH SHE TRIED TO GET, unless Dana FILES A POLICE REPORT.
          Call me names, whatever. WHat Dana is doing now is lashing out at an airline in an attempt to victimize SOMEONE just AS SHE WAS VICTIMIZED. This is classic behaviour after an assault, and it is very unhealthy, very unfair to the people at Spirit whose emails she is publishing in her attempt to victimize someone.

          Spirit is the one who told her that she needed to get a police report. Spirit has offered to pay for her flight and her Parent's flight as a gesture of goodwill….but Dana is only interested in further victimizing them.

          Dana needs to go see a psychologist or psychiatrist before she spreads her victimizing behavvior to her husband or to other people or organizations in her sphere.

          No, I'm not stupid. Thanks for asking.

          • Teri

            She didn't report it until she felt SAFE. Clearly, safe to Dana was not in the place where YOU imagine YOU would feel safe, but rather, with her family. Safe… protected… and at last secure enough to be able to share the horror of what had happened to her. Until you have been sexually assaulted/abused, or educated, you will never understand the fear and shame that completely overwhelms the victim. It affects every aspect of rational thinking, and immediately puts the victim into protective mode. Sadly, many victims never get to that "safe" place, and live with the pain, shame, and fear the rest of their lives. Bravo to Dana for being able to report her experience to the authorities. Perhaps she has saved someone else from having to endure a sexual assault! Victimizing someone else after being a victim is not "classic" behavior. Please do not continue to repeat such ridiculous, incorrect, and ignorant information. Perhaps you are thinking of children that are abused, not adult women.

      • Taz

        Well I guess rape victims should also have to adhere to your "you snooze, you lose" philosophy for not reporting the rape DURING the assault, right? Your logic, and believe me I use the term "logic" VERY loosely here, is highly flawed and highly insensitive.

    • Tayloe

      You do realize that Dana wasn't asking for Spirit to arrest the man, right? You also realize that she wasn't asking Spirit to screen passengers prior to flights? And furthermore do you realize that since Dana asked for neither of these things, and instead asked only that the crew on the man's future flights be made aware to keep an eye on him and for Dana to be connected to the appropriate people to file a complaint against JIM, that your rant in your comment makes absolutely no sense? She expected no more than anyone in her situation would – an apology (which anyone in a service industry knows how to do), a promise that all steps would be taken to protect future passengers, and an easy telephone transfer to the correct police department to file a complaint. The fact that Spirit Airlines took HOURS to tell Dana to talk to the incorrect agency to file a complaint, never actually apologized for the incident, as well as the fact that Spirit did NOTHING to protect the passengers who may have been seated next to Jim on a future flight DOES, in fact, make the company worthy of her, and all logical person's, anger. I suggest you get off of your victim-blaming soapbox and reread the original post.

  • Helena

    Dana, I'm so incredibly sorry you have had to experience this. I really hope they catch the guy and you can file charges. He needs to learn a lesson. As for Spirit, I will never fly them and I hope thousands and thousands of others get the message and also boycott. Big hugs to you. Give yourself time and space to grieve. HUGS

  • Dana,
    In all my years of traveling overseas as well as domestically, I've had to deal with some crazy shit (Chinese men spitting at me in airports for being a) a woman b) traveling alone and c) American) but I've NEVER been concerned for my personal safety, not counting when my plane was hit by lightening! But seriously, what a absolutely hideous thing to happen.
    Men of this sort are fucking predators. You had already been vomited on, you were stuck in the middle seat (close quarters often times create a "trapped" environment for victims) and it was night/dark. While I get why you didn't say anything, I only wish you had so the fucker would have been arrested immediately departing the plane. GAH.
    The fact that it took you the time and effort it did to report a crime on their airline is inexcusable. GOOD FOR YOU for leveraging social media. I hope they catch the sick bastard.

  • Shana

    So sorry to hear that happened to you, Dana. I was already aware of Spirit’s POOR POOR customer service and have refused to fly them for 5 years now. (They cancelled a flight on me in which I had an urget meeting to attend and I never made that meeting because they had no back up solution for me.) You are right to speak up. Thanks so much for sharing and raising awareness.

  • As a victim of sexual abuse, I find this entire situation absolutely appalling. Your experience epitomizes why women often do not report sexual abuse/rape. They're afraid of being blamed, of feeling guilt from all the things they "should have done", and after all of this, that their abuser will still get away with it. You speaking up is helping others in ways you'll probably never truly grasp the understanding of. BRAVO DANA!

    To Spirit Airlines and Jim: *middlefinger*

    Maybe one of Jim's classmates will know it was him and come forward? Guys like that have been creepers their entire life and I'm sure (unfortunately) that you're not his first victim. This guy really has it coming.

  • partiesbykristen

    Bravo for standing up for yourself and the safety of others. I know this isn't easy as I have been sexually assaulted myself. I will never ever recommend or fly Spirit Airlines and am more than happy to continue to inundate their Twitter feed with calls to action and support for you. Sending support and hugs.

  • I am disgusted by how you were treated after such an experience! I am so, so sorry for what had happened to you and I admire you for speaking up. I hope that Jim is brought to justice, and that Spirit at least gives you a formal apology (but they should do more) for their poor customer service and attitude. *hugs*

  • Michelle C.

    Holy cow. The way Jim treated you and the way Spirit Airlines is handling it is disgusting. Scum like Jim need to know that they can't get away with that kind of crap. Spirit Airlines handled this situation dismally, and I hope that they rectify the situation pronto. Thank you for being brave enough to speak up, and hopefully publicity of this sort will cause Spirit to change its procedures and protect women in the future.

  • Wired & Witty

    Dana, you didn't do anything wrong. All the ridiculous responses you got are sexist, really dangerous, and are victim blaming! I'm really glad you're okay. Your reaction of paralyzing fear is exactly how a lot of women feel. Why would we expect shit like this to happen. I'm really glad you're okay. You are brave to speak about your experiences. I truly commend you for it. Their passive lack of response is unacceptable. Their defense of their ignorance and failure to protect and right their wrongs is even worse. Let us know more as you move forward!

  • Tiarala

    This is a company who ran an ad campaign during the Representative Weiner scandal called "The BIG Weiner Sale" with lots of horrifying, suggestive themed copy. I'm not surprised they're unsympathetic. I'm so glad you spoke out. I'm so sorry for what happened to you.

  • Sarah

    I am so sorry this happened to you. Wow, what a horrible, disturbing situation. Kudos to you for standing up for yourself and following through with Spirit Airlines. I will definitely avoid this airline in the future.

  • Madeleine

    Like times a million. Thank you so much for speaking up and for calling Spirit on their bullshit. I can't tell you how much this post means to me, and I am so thankful for your bravery.

  • hisbirdie

    Dana, I'm so sorry this happened to you. As a victim of sexual assault I know that paralyzing feeling. I also know what it is like to tell someone and have them blame you. You did nothing wrong. Hugs to you and props for speaking out! XOXO

  • What an appalling situation, and good for you to stand up to them! I am so sorry this happened to you. It's something no woman should have to endure.

  • Erica Adams

    Shocked and saddened that you would be treated this way. I am so sorry this happened to you. You were in complete shock, it's hard to react when you can't believe what is happening to you. Press charges if you are able. What if on the next flight he sat next to someone and became bolder. Shame on spirit airlines and the endless channels you have to go throught to be heard.

  • KT83

    I am so sorry you had to go through this! I have a feeling that part of the weirdness from the staff you experienced trying to relay what had happened to you is due to poor training. My thought is that the employees didn't really know what to do with what you were telling them. Not that that excuses it in the least bit! But maybe this will prompt them to make some seriously overdue changes?
    Having been a victim of sexual assault myself and being so stuck in what *I* did wrong vs what *he* did wrong I definitely applaud you for this blog post. People that haven't been through it really don't seem to get why you didn't know what to do…I never ended up saying anything…and sometimes I still beat myself up about it. So thank you for being as courageous as you are being right now!
    Someone who wasn't.

  • Jeff

    I train service recovery for my company. Any talk about Spirit having an opportunity to respond appropriately is impossible now. They had a chance to respond appropriately at the time. Now all they can do is offer some sort of compensation, and assist in identifying and apprehending the offender.

    I am sorry this happened to you. I think it is terrible that any company that puts random strangers together does not have some sort of procedure to take complaints of this nature. I would stop expecting appropriate responses and start the litigation process. If you have not done so already, consider strting by asking for copies of their own harassment policies and training plans.

    Good luck.

  • Anonymous


    So sorry to hear about your terrible experience. However, you should know, crimes that take place on an airplane in US airspace fall under the jurisdiction of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, not the TSA or local police. You should contact your local FBI office to report this crime. The airline should have told you this, but obviously they are experiencing a lapse in judgment. Good luck.

  • dale

    Yes, you are a victim. But even with being a victim, there is still responsibility and accountability. By not reporting the incident immediately and wanting the airline to do all the work…I'm just saying…take some responsibility.

    • Dorst

      You're a douche bag, Dale. She did not invite that man's assault. She was afraid, alone, and in shock to be so taken advantage of and concerned that no one would believe her or, SHOCK!, even blame her for the situation she was put in–THE WAY YOU ARE DOING RIGHT NOW.

      Own up to it, you are victim blaming. Dressing it up as "she didn't tell someone right away" is bullshit.

    • Bubbles

      The victim is never responsible for the attack. Period. End of story. Your attitude is exactly why many women never report attacks of this nature, and why people like Jim think they can get away with their behavior.

    • liz

      Dale, she already knew there was no where to move to. She knew the crew already was unable to help her with a different horrible situation. Informing them, and then having no consequences for him could have led to an escalation of the assault.

      Get your head around this: Reporting right away is not always the best choice in terms of personal safety. As soon as she was in a safe place, she DID report.

      Blaming the victim for not reporting immediately when such action could be dangerous? You are certainly person of the year.

    • Taylor

      Dale – you are a waste of protoplasm. She went through SIX HOURS of work to try to protect OTHER PASSENGERS. What part of that is expecting the airline to "do all the work"? You should probably go sit in a corner somewhere until you a) have adequate reading comprehension skills to post comments on the internet, and b) gain some measure of compassion and understanding.

  • allofmywords

    I am sorry this happened to you. Prayers and thoughts with you as you fight the good fight. Nail this asshole.

  • This is going on my Tumblr account. As a fellow survivor I will spread your story.

  • kylamarilyn

    I've only flown Spirit a few times but was disappointed in my experiences with them. Now, I will NEVER fly with them again. I hope more people hear your story and respond with the same disgust for how they handled your situation. Bravo to you for speaking up, REGARDLESS of when you did it.

  • "An inconvenience?”
    Appalling. Obviouslty, this freak has been getting away with this shit. I hope something is done about it….before he does it to some little kid.

  • hackermd


  • Annoyed

    Oh, get off your high horse. I know this was traumatic for you, but running to the internet and writing a blog post (filled with every cliche on this topic) when things don't work the way you want them to sounds really childish.

    • A. Nonny Mouse

      Yes. GOD FORBID a woman should speak publicly about the trauma she faced, and the poor response of those with the power to help her. Women who are traumatized should just try to forget it, go home, and never discuss the incident with anyone, right?

      You disgust me.

    • Jessie

      I am disheartened to learn that people like you exist.

  • I know exactly what you are going through. The same thing happened to me on the train just a few weeks ago. I didn’t say anything. I just sat in shock. I didn’t understand what was happening. My mind kept screaming, “Get out! Get away!”. Luckily for me, I could just get up and move. I truly feel for you, Dana. This is just awful and terrible. I can’t believe that there is absolutely nothing that Spirit could do. At the very least, they could warn connecting flights to keep an eye on him.

  • Amie


    This is horrible. I can't believe he would do that in such a public forum, unless that's how he gets his off. But I do have to ask, what was the man on your other side doing during all of this? Was he sleeping too? Or was he just oblivious to what was happening in the seats beside him.

    We all say that yelling, screaming, getting someone's attention somehow is what we would do in a similar situation. But we never really know what we can/will do unless we are faced with it. Yes, in hindsight she should have done something, and she knows that. But she didn't because she was scared. And she shouldn't have had to "do something" as the flight attendants should have been on rounds, and the other passengers should have noticed something awry, it was a packed plane afterall.

    Good to you now, Dana, for using the tools that you have to seek this man out, and to get Spirit (and other airlines) held accountable for their lack of reporting systems.

  • I am so glad this post is making its way around social media. You are leveraging one hell of a community and I, for one, am grateful that you wrote this. Though it breaks my heart that you've had to put up with so much bullshit and victim blaming, know that millions of women who have been sexually assaulted are proud of you for speaking out.

  • Holy crap. I saw this posted on FB and I am astonished at the lack of sensitivity spirit airlines is showing you. If I were you, I'd call your local news channel and have them report on it. Blast it across the media. This is disgraceful.

  • Bernell

    At some point you should have ordered a hot cup of coffee…and hey…turbulence baby….how about a stilleto heal to the groin…better yet have him hold your carry on…that was drenched in vomit….Ha…and I'm not joking….

  • yeahivebeenfondled

    your boob got touched. move on with your life. christ almighty.

    • Fers

      Missing the point award! You win it!

    • Jenna

      Wow. You're a real winner, "yeah I've been fondled". Bravo. Now do me a favor and go tell your mother this story and your response to it. Better yet, how about telling your daughter that should this situation happen to her, she needs to "move on with [her] life."

      It must be a very lonely existence, being such an asshole. Or do you manage to hide it better when you don't have the cloak of anonymity and actually have to look people in the eye when you spew your venomous shit? Coward. If you can't put your name and face to it, then don't say it. Period.

  • yeahivebeenfondled

    your boob got touched. move on with your life. christ almighty.

    • Teri

      Wow. You must be a very angry person to be able to spew such hatred towards an innocent victim of sexual assault. Imagine this happened to someone you care about, or love. Doesn't that change your perspective just a bit?

  • Krista

    You did the right thing. You reported it. Ignore those who say you should have reported it to the flight attendant or pressed the button or told them as soon as you got off. You were in shock. The important thing is that you did the right thing by reporting it later. You know you have nothing to be ashamed of! YOU ARE NOT TO BLAME. Do not forget that. And stay strong while you continue to fight.

  • Jessie

    First-time reader; I followed a link from Shakesville. Dana, I'm so sorry this happened to you. Putting Spirit Airlines on my personal "no-fly" list.

    Apparently, "For your safety, please report any suspicious behavior you observe yada yada" means "please report men in Middle Eastern dress," not "please report men committing acts of violence against women". /bitter sarcasm

    • spiritsucks

      Jessie, you are RIGHT ON!!! I am creating my own "personal no-fly list" too!

  • spiritsucks

    Spirit– so evil! Dana, you are awesome, way to fight it!!! You did and are doing everything right.

    Not that this would make it better, but is there ANY chance the guy was sleeping, and fondling in his sleep? The reason I ask is because my husband will hug me and stuff in his deepest sleep. If I get out of bed, our dog will jump into my spot and my husband will indiscriminately hug him. I always joke he'll hug anything in his sleep and threaten to put our dog's stinky stuffed animal next to him to test it. Now I'm paranoid– what if he fell asleep on a plane and… !? As if I'm not paranoid about enough stuff.

    Regardless, the airlines need to step up. I am willing to bet it is more likely one will be sexually harassed on a plane than die in a plane crash. Laws need to be instituted: Maybe have a placard on the back of the seat or on the safety info what to do if one is sexually harassed, and one of the options should be to be able to report it after wards. And they should provide contact info. They should announce at the beginning of every flight that if a woman is harassed or even feels uncomfortable next to a guy, the airline should inform everyone that they will make every effort to find a new seat. Put the biggest scariest guy next to the pig man who assaults and publicly shame the fucker. But oh, the responsibility shouldn't all be on the female! What the fuck can be done?!! I'm so tired of society and this shit. Fuck pig men, Fuck pig Spirit Airlines. Kudos to the police in your situation!! More power to you Dana!!!

  • Michele

    Those of you who are blaming Dana for not acting differently should consider this: in this rape culture, victim blaming society, there is a very real possibility that, had Dana reported Jim's actions to one of the attendants, Jim would have vehemently denied it, the attendant would have dismissed it and Dana would be stuck for the rest of the flight dealing with that shit too. There is no "proper" response to this kind of improper behavior and Dana did what she needed to do for herself in that moment. Dana, I am so sorry for your initial victimization by Jim and re-victimization by Spirit and the ignorant who troll among the interwebs.

  • Carol

    Why is this Spirits Fault? What are the police doing about it? If the police are not doing anything about it what can Spirit do about it. They can’t ban the passenger they can’t tell him were to sit. Your frustration and anger should be directed at the guy that did it to you Spirit didn’t do it to you. If you were on the Subway and it happened would you blame the transit authority. Sounds to me like you are looking for a PAY DAY!

    • They can most certainly ban him.

      Also, you're a douche.

      PS: the woman-as-golddigger cliche is so old it's decayed back to dirt. Get some new material already.

    • Carey

      There is a lot wrong with you. Namely, your lack of compassion, and lack of reading comprehension (namely, she never said it was Spirit's fault. She is taking Spirit to task for their own lack of compassion and support after a customer was assaulted on one of their flights.) Also, I agree with Brittany-Ann.

  • Spirit’s response to this terrible experience is an outrage — good for you for calling them on it.

    I completely understand your being terrified and not knowing what to do. This is how ALL of us as women are programmed, which is why I cannot recommend strongly enough a good, impact self-defense course.

    Girls are strongly programmed from birth to take care of those around us (including our assailants!), that we “shouldn’t make a scene,” and yes, even that we’re not worth defending.

    And of course predators, like the one on this flight, *rely* on our fear and shame. In most assault situations, a single act of clear resistance (which may literally just be a loud “NO!”) TOTALLY STOPS the assault from proceeding.

    Think about this: assailants don’t have a Plan B. They go after women and girls they think will be easy targets. They’re not looking for a tough fight, so if a woman shows a potential assailant that she’s NOT going to be an easy target, the guy is going to go elsewhere.

    And NO, I am NOT blaming the victim here. The problem is not that women cause or are to blame for assault against us (we DON’T, and we AREN’T), BUT the better armed we are to deal with it, the less these despiccable predators will succeed in their attempts to hurt us, or anyone.

    For any woman or girl reading this, I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend taking an impact self defense class, where you’ll be trained not only in physical techniques to fight off even the biggest, strongest predator (everyone has sensitive zones, remember — you can’t build up muscles around your eyes, your nose, your Adam’s apple, and of course, your balls…), but you’ll also learn to deprogram yourself from any of those messed up beliefs that we’re all programmed with, but may not even know you carry around with you — like the idea that you’re not worth defending, or that the comfort of everyone around you is more important than your safety and comfort.

    Find a class near you here:

    And no, I receive no benefit from telling you about this, other than creating a safer world for everyone.

    Before taking impact self-defense classes the only “defenses” in my “toolbox” were avoidance and denial, which don’t get you very far when someone’s trying to harm you. Now I know that I AM powerful, and that I CAN defend myself. And that I AM worth defending. I know exactly what I can do, and because the training is done when you’re in an adrenalized state, it is trained into your body; there are countless “success stories” from graduates of impact classes who took a class years ago and successfully fought off a predator. This is powerful stuff.

    Thank you, Dana, for sharing this story. I hope the a-hole who molested you is stopped, and I hope Spirit gets their act together. I also hope you can get to an impact self-defense class. If you’re anything like me, it will change your life!

    • progressivelements

      Just adding that I didn't mean to 'like' your post. I find it problematic and concern trolling.

    • LeeAnne

      This is the smartest post in this entire thread. Thank you for zeroing in on the REAL issue: women need to learn to protect themselves, and stop enabling their abusers. It cannot be stated strongly enough: we are NOT TO BLAME for the crimes perpetrated against us. But we, and ONLY we, are responsible for how we respond. If we allow them to assault us and escape scot-free, that's on us.

  • norma g

    So sorry this happened to you Dana. What kind of airline is this? unacceptable! Outrages! I'm glad you're speaking up. No one deserves this. And it makes me angry that some people would dare to even blame the victim, wtf? since when is this the victim's fault? I completely understand you being terrified and shocked. Who would expect this?! So sorry. I'm glad you're fine.

  • erin

    Dana, I'm disgusted by this man. by the way this airline treated you. by the state of customer service in our country. by the lack of compassion in general. thank you for sharing your story, and being so open about it. good luck!

  • You Should Totally go and try reporting this outside(somewhere else) and then expose the airline for what they'r putting you through… i dont think its fair for declining your request to file a complaint…is it? Be strong…

  • sharedog

    lady, what did you expect? YOU DIDN'T SAY ANYTHING. anyone could just make up anything about a fellow passenger. you expected them to give them the information about the person sitting next to you? what planet are you from? i shudder to think that some person sitting next to me on a plane can just call up and get my name and number from the airlines. what happened to you was terrible. the airline acted like jerks about it. but how exactly is this their fault? what do you expect them to do about it after the fact?

  • sharedog

    lady, what did you expect? YOU DIDN'T SAY ANYTHING. anyone could just make up anything about a fellow passenger. you expected them to give them the information about the person sitting next to you? what planet are you from? i shudder to think that some person sitting next to me on a plane can just call up and get my name and number from the airlines. what happened to you was terrible. the airline acted like jerks about it. but how exactly is this their fault? what do you expect them to do about it after the fact?

    • Frustrated!!

      What the heck is wrong with you people?! If this is the way the law worked then people would get away with everything! @sharedog you COULD potentially be blamed for rape, molestation, etc.. I think it's very rare to have a camera or witness see most rapes, sexual assaults happen, so it is most always the word of the victim that most of the time DOES in fact come out days later after said incident. So HOW in the heck is this situation different? Imagine if the law only went after assaulters if it was witnessed by a camera or someone else?? We would have no need for trials, lawyers, etc..

  • Jenna

    "I needed to make certain that the crew of his connecting flight to Detroit (and subsequent return flight to LAX) were notified, so that he could be carefully monitored and above all, not seated next to any other women for their own protection."

    Reading the whole story helps.

    "Anyone could just make up anything about a fellow passenger"- yup, but because that's true no complaint should be investigated, especially ones as serious as this? And yes, she did say something, to people with authority to actually have an impact on the situation. They failed to respond appropriately.

  • Arnold Castellanos

    I am terrible sorry for this horrible incident. We admire you for your courage and being very strong and preventing future assaults. YOU ARE A VERY BRAVE GIRL!!!!!!!!

  • Thanks for blogging about this. It's disgusting and you're so right. If you didn't have such a big social media following, would anyone care? Ugh! Keep us updated!

  • Cathy

    Dana, I am sorry that you had this happen to you, but after the first incident you should have said something even if you would not have been moved. This would have embarrassed him and put him in the limelight of the plane. Then after the second assault, I would have done anything to get the hell out of that seat!!! I was young(college age) and on a bus ride from up state new york to boston and an old , old man sat next to me as well, He was masturbating and had his man parts hanging out of his zipper when I awoke !! I was damn sure to get off the bus at the next stop, tell the driver and he was kind of enough to say sit behind the driver seat during the remainder of the ride. I am not blaming you but if we keep our mouths shut then these assholes will always get away with it. The airline is another story, they are ineffective and rude!!! Please all girls, hear this and don't keep your mouth shut during these types of assaults!!!!!

    • Carey

      I don't think it's appropriate to tell a victim of sexual assault what they SHOULD have done. It makes it seem as though they were somehow in the wrong, even slightly, in a situation where other people were entirely to blame (Jim for the assault, and the airline for their response). Just because YOU would have said something (you think) or you would have felt comfortable sitting by the man who groped you, in a dark, enclosed plane for the rest of the flight (and wouldn't have felt embarrassed having other people know what happened to you) doesn't mean everyone does. Your experience is not everyone's experience. (You were lucky you were able to get off at the next stop on your bus; surely you see the problem with doing that on a plane?)

      No, you're not blaming her, but it is not ANYONE'S place to decide what is an individual's best reaction to assault, especially since there are no "best" responses to assault. If you feel threatened, keeping your mouth shut might be someone's personal way of staying safe until they can get away.

    • Carey

      I don't think it's appropriate to tell a victim of sexual assault what they SHOULD have done. It makes it seem as though they were somehow in the wrong, even slightly, in a situation where other people were entirely to blame (Jim for the assault, and the airline for their response). Just because YOU would have said something (you think) or you would have felt comfortable sitting by the man who groped you, in a dark, enclosed plane for the rest of the flight (and wouldn't have felt embarrassed having other people know what happened to you) doesn't mean everyone does. Your experience is not everyone's experience. (You were lucky you were able to get off at the next stop on your bus; surely you see the problem with doing that on a plane?)

      No, you're not blaming her, but it is not ANYONE'S place to decide what is an individual's best reaction to assault, especially since there are no "best" responses to assault. If you feel threatened, keeping your mouth shut might be someone's personal way of staying safe until they can get away.

      • LeeAnne

        I'm sorry but I disagree with you. It most certainly IS my place, and every woman's place, to tell an assault victim that they have an obligation to report their attack. By keeping it to herself, she has done a disservice to every future woman this creep will encounter. Is it easy to speak up? No. But doing the right thing isn't always easy. In this case, there is a "right" and a "wrong" way to respond. Keeping quiet and allowing the criminal to escape was the WRONG thing to do…and that is indisputable. Keeping your mouth shut may feel easier, but it's the wrong choice.

        As for feeling embarrassment – how is it right to allow one's fear of embarrassment allow a sexual criminal to escape to assault other women? I'm sorry but it seems to be that protecting other women from future assaults trumps someone's fear of being "embarrassed".

  • Cathy

    Dana, I am sorry that you had this happen to you, but after the first incident you should have said something even if you would not have been moved. This would have embarrassed him and put him in the limelight of the plane. Then after the second assault, I would have done anything to get the hell out of that seat!!! I was young(college age) and on a bus ride from up state new york to boston and an old , old man sat next to me as well, He was masturbating and had his man parts hanging out of his zipper when I awoke !! I was damn sure to get off the bus at the next stop, tell the driver and he was kind of enough to say sit behind the driver seat during the remainder of the ride. I am not blaming you but if we keep our mouths shut then these assholes will always get away with it. The airline is another story, they are ineffective and rude!!! Please all girls, hear this and don't keep your mouth shut during these types of assaults!!!!!

  • Taylor

    Mumford High School in Detroit celebrated their 50th class anniversary this past weekend. I'll see if I can't find a Jim or a James (in case Jim is a nickname) in that class….

  • Taylor

    Mumford High School in Detroit celebrated their 50th class anniversary this past weekend. I'll see if I can't find a Jim or a James (in case Jim is a nickname) in that class….

  • Jenny

    Why not talk to the police at the airport? Police always should be the first action. Just form my expereinces. its get the best action and so does a good lawyer.

  • Pingback: Is this enough compensation? Assaulted on my flight — and so ignored | Travel Blog()

  • pamela

    I'm sorry to hear your story, however I don't really understand why you didn't just call for a flight attendant immediately. I believe every flight has an air marshall aboard and he/she probably could have traded seats with you. Your reaction is so typical of frightened women but you were in fact a very safe place to report something like that. I am a woman and I would have said something to a flight attendant. It isn't Spirit's fault since you have no proof against the passenger. Your silence really worked against you. Next time, speak up!

  • pamela

    I'm sorry to hear your story, however I don't really understand why you didn't just call for a flight attendant immediately. I believe every flight has an air marshall aboard and he/she probably could have traded seats with you. Your reaction is so typical of frightened women but you were in fact a very safe place to report something like that. I am a woman and I would have said something to a flight attendant. It isn't Spirit's fault since you have no proof against the passenger. Your silence really worked against you. Next time, speak up!

  • jayfrommn

    I am sorry that this guy did this too you and maybe he will get kicked in the nuts at the party because he pulled this on one of his classmates and she has been waiting for years to get him. But i am also very sad you didn't find the strength to over come your event , just enough to be proactive and get the guy arrested before you left the airport.
    A true victim of any crime has no recourse, now with that said, mentality wise this would suck to have happen and i don't diminish that on you but i also know, there would thousands of other women who have been sexually assaulted who would love to have your ODDS. text the police to meet you at the gate, cause a scene to get everyone to look at this guy, spill a drink or knock him down, then when staff or police talk you can tell em the story with some support.

    And yes the airline responded coldly and that doesn't help how you feel or the trauma that did occur but they have a limited amount of scope in dealing with a crime that is not dealt with in REAL TIME.

    i do hope that you can get over this and empower yourself back to the person you were before so that others dont who know you dont feel he took a piece of you. But i also hope you can step back and be honest about the person role you had in keeping the power and the law on your side as you pursue this man. TIME was on your side and 3 times -getting off the plane, going to the airport police office and then – getting the police to hold the plane to pull him off, was chances that you let slip by, and now it really becomes a he say she say deal, and only you know the truth.
    I do also know that if this man keeps this up, he has a pattern and i hope that you can locate him on the airline roster from that day and id his picture and ask spirit to run, maybe a undercover sting and catch him red handed. BE peaceful.

  • LeeAnne

    Dana, I am very sorry and sad that you suffered a sexual assault. As a rape survivor myself, I am very aware of the emotional pain and horror that victims of assault feel. And the lack of compassion that you experienced from Spirit after you reported it was also wrong, and compounded the crime.

    That being said, I cannot agree with you that Spirit is at fault here, other than for being less-than-compassionate when you finally did report it. YOU had an obligation to report it as it was happening. Having not done so, you missed out on the opportunity to stop a sexual criminal in his tracks.

    I understand you felt paralyzed and fearful during the attack…and those are real feelings. However, by not overcoming your fear, you have done a disservice not only to yourself, but to every woman who this man will encounter in the future. How many women will now suffer sexual assaults at this criminal’s hands? Every one of them could have been avoided had you simply spoken up when it was still possible to have him arrested.

    What if you were walking down a street, and you saw a man pulling a child into an alleyway with a knife at her throat? Would it be okay to claim “I was too scared to report it”?

    I also understand there were no other seats on the plane. That does not change the fact that you were being sexually assaulted, nor is it a reason not to report a crime being committed! What if you saw him pulling out a bomb and attempting to light it? Would you have been too scared to report it? Would you have stayed quiet about it because you knew there were no other seats on the plane? Had you reported it immediately, there are any number of measures the crew could have taken. The assaulter is the one who probably would have been removed from his seat, and likely handcuffed and made to sit in one of the jump seats. Or, you could have been moved to one of the jump seats and a crew member sit next to him.

    The truth is, you had nothing to fear by reporting the crime. You had one sexual criminal sitting next to you…but you had full crew of professionals trained in keeping their passengers safe. Trust me that this is not the first time something like this has happened, and they are trained in how to deal with it. Not only that, you had an entire plane of people who would have been incensed at this pig’s actions, and would have gladly protected you from him for the duration of the flight. You did not have to endure this alone. You CHOSE to endure it alone.

    Yes, it was a choice to remain silent. As hard as it might have been to speak up, you COULD have done it…and it would have been the right thing to do. Doing the right thing is not always the easy thing.

    Please do not accuse me of “blaming the victim”. I am not blaming you for having been the victim of an assault. As a rape victim myself, I understand the insidiousness of that, and have experienced it myself. You are not to blame for this criminal assaulting you.

    But you ARE to blame for allowing him to escape. You ARE to blame for allowing your fear to enable your attacker. You are now culpable for every woman he assaults in the future, because you let him assault you and did nothing about it.

    Someone above me posted a link to information about learning self-defense. I URGE you to look into that. Nobody should allow fear to paralyze them to the point where they allow themselves to be sexually assaulted…and then allow their attacker to escape to assault future women. You owe it to all women to learn to protect yourself.

    I hope you are able to come to terms with your assault, and learn from this experience. You CAN learn to overcome your fears and do the right thing, and never again allow a sexual criminal to walk free. You owe it to all women to do that.

  • Audrey

    I am so sorry to hear that this happened to you. I've been a victim of assault myself, and I totally understand your shock and inability to 'report in-flight' what happened. Spirit Airlines should have acted more promptly and compassionately when you filed your report. I hope that the authorities find this man and he ends up on the bottom bunk of a prison somewhere with the words 'SEXUAL OFFENDER, PREDATOR' tattoo'd across his forehead. =) Or, just pull a 'Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' and tattoo his chest…

    Best wishes to you. Seek some counseling and take a self defense class. If you ever find yourself in the same situation again, kick the guy's ass.

  • Tough Old Person

    My heart really goes out to you, you were trapped. All the above being said, there's nothing to add except to use this as a forum for women everywhere to watch out for themselves and the predators who may be around us (sexual or other). Ladies, we actually can defend ourselves. Let's go back to July 5th 2007 when I was attacked by a lone man outside a church wielding a gun. He trapped me between two cars and demanded my keys (in my hand ready to strike). It was very dark and very scarey needless to say. He said he would kill me if I didn't give him my keys so he could steal my car. I had taken my son to Kenpo Karate for a few years and boy did that pay off. I turned, planted, screamed, pushed back and hit him with my keys in hand – all the while thinking I will die in the church parking lot! That didn't happen of course because here I am. Where is he? Incarcerated for 22 years – with no parole!! Yep, three weeks later they got him and put him away so he can't hurt anyone else like that ever again.

  • joe

    Did you report it to the police?

  • Will

    Just kidding, I am terribly sorry that you had to go through this. Fuck that airline.

  • suburbianbliss

    Wow, just wow. And I thought my experience with Spirit was bad! Now I am on to read their response to this…I'm sure it's nothing short of awful.

  • Ok..I know I’m WAAAAY late to weigh in on this but I’m gonna toss my 2 cents out there anyway.
    #1- A big, hearty FUCK YOU to anyone telling Dana what she SHOULD have done. Who the hell do you think you are? Even if Dana was sitting there with a skimpy skirt on and a bikini top with her legs splayed open-SHE DID NOT ASK FOR A CREEPY OLD MAN TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF HER WHILE SHE WAS ASLEEP!!!
    #2- Put your big girl panties/big boy tighty whities on and man up. If you can post a comment, you can post your name. If you are too afraid to post your name how the hell can you condemn Dana for being too afraid to push a button while her attacker is still there?!
    #3- For crap’s sake, have some decency and compassion! Whether it is a secondary attack thinly veiled as your “opinion” or an outright attack (I’m talking to you, Just Sayin’, Spirit As Your Proxy, LeeAnn, Dale & any other inconsiderate fool who feels the need to chastise the VICTIM) Dana is still a human being who experienced something HORRIBLE! There is no difference between what Dana experienced and what the 191,670 men and women who REPORT their assult face every YEAR. That’s right…damn near TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND OF US have someone grope them, force them down and brutally rape them, continue after we’ve SCREAMED, PLEAD, BEGGED and FOUGHT against our attacker. And that’s not counting the people too ashamed to report it; the people too afraid that they will be blamed for dressing too provocatively or who FELL ASLEEP ON A FREAKING PLANE AND COULDN’T PUSH THE ATTENDANT BUTTON or who are worried their attacker will return and cause them or their loved ones serious harm.
    Congratulations, douche bags….you’re the reason it was hard for me to tell that my stepfather put his hand over my mouth and forced his way inside of me night after night after night. I thought it was my fault. I wore clothes that were too revealing or that I had asked for it or that it was normal. I was worried what people would think of me or how they would talk about me behind my back. Thank you SOOO much for that! Because I know you’re dense, I’ll just give you a heads up-that was sarcasm.
    Thank you.
    Love always,
    SomeoneNotAfraidToPutANameToAComment- Jenna King, Omaha, Nebraska

  • Disappointed

    I’m sorry this happened to you. Please do not second guess your decision not to report it to the flight crew. I had a similar event occur a few weeks ago on United Airlines and I did report it to the flight crew. With the exception of one outstanding crew member, I was treated very poorly. When I tried explaining this to someone at United after the fact, they have just continued to dismiss me. Even thought he pilot was alerted to the incident, the only thing they did was change my seat–away from the perpetrator but in the middle of two burly men for the 8 hour remainder of the flight. When I expressed hesitation with this, it was made clear that I wasn’t being gracious for their accommodation. While I was uncertain at the time if I wanted to report it to authorities, when I decided to so, United has been completely uncooperative and insulting. Their main goal seems to protect the perpetrator and justify his actions. They are mostly interested in protecting themselves. I spent a considerable amount of time and energy and numerous dead ends before even finding someone who could take the report. So, it isn’t just Spirit and reporting it immediately sadly doesn’t change the outcome.

  • nlcatter

    you should have broken his nose at least as others said! and im a man

  • Mace Caesar

    No one should use Spirit ever. They fleece their customers and don’t even treat them like human beings. Honestly, this is exactly the sort of response I would expect from Spirit. It goes beyond rape culture and the insensitivity of capitalism. If corporations are indeed people, then Spirit Airlines is a low functioning psychopath.

  • Mace Caesar

    It’s Spirit. The button is probably connected to a car battery that shocks you to condition you not to make requests.

  • Loïc TP

    Today a crazy crew member of Spirit Airlines took me out

    of plane !!! This guy had started to explain security

    procedure… during this time i replyed to text

    message…maybe 20 seconds… he was angry and yell after

    me and ask me to change my seat ( i had paid extra for

    aisle) i had refused it, because i had paid for it….As i

    refused, he called security guard and took me (and my

    daughter) out off the plane…..with no reason….i asked

    company to schedule another flight and ground hostess

    never want it….i had ask for a refund and she never want

    too…..Steward never want to give me his name….

    What’s wrong with this company !!! in first time flight was

    delayed 2 hours and after that they took me out of the