More than half of cabin crew members surveyed have been sexually harassed mid-flight because the confines of an aircraft was the ‘perfect place’ for perpetrators.
One crew member surveyed said her captain told a plane of miners to kiss a female flight attendant to mark Valentine’s Day.
The Transport Workers Union (TWU), which surveyed 419 cabin crew members from four major Australian airlines, revealed 65 per cent had experienced sexual harassment by passengers or colleagues.
Groping, passengers exposing private parts, making sexual remarks, and acts of discrimination towards sexual orientation topped the list of complaints.
65 per cent of crew members across four major Australian airlines had experienced sexual harassment by passengers or colleagues
Hannah Rowland, a former Qantas flight attendant, said pervy passengers thought the cabin crew were easy targets because of the ‘close proximity’ in a plane.
‘They [perpetrators] might think ‘well we’re all stuck here, where are they going to go?’,’ she said.
‘Really, this is the perfect place – there’s nowhere they can hide from you.’
Ms Rowland said the airline did not help her when she reported her sexual harassment.
‘You’re disrupting the network by asking not to work with this person,’ was the response she received from Qantas when notified them of an incident.
‘You’re disrupting the network by asking not to work with this person,’ was the response former Qantas flight attendant Hannah Rowlands received when she reported sexual harassment
The hashtag #CabinCrewToo has begun circulating online to raise awareness of the sexual harassment on board planes.
The online campaign was sparked by the #Metoo movement, where victims of sexual assault and harassment reported their experiences on social media platforms.
The survey of cabin crew members from Qantas, Tigerair, Virgin and Jetstar was conducted over a two-month period this year.
84 per cent of cabin crew said they were not satisfied with the handling of their sexual harassment reports to the airline
The union representing the flight attendants revealed 84 per cent of cabin crew who spoke up were not satisfied with the way the airline handled their complaint while 80 per cent said not enough was being donen to stop harassmen.
TWU said the survey was ‘strictly confidential’ and was ‘entirely the decision of the individual’ as to whether they felt comfortable completing it.
‘We believe this is a very serious issue that needs to be dealt with,’ a spokesman said on Twitter.
The hashtag #CabinCrewToo has begun circulating online to raise awareness of the sexual harassment on board planes
A spokeswoman for Qantas Group, which also covers Jetstar Australia, stated Hannah’s case was ‘thoroughly investigated’ once they were aware of the incident.
The spokeswoman said a number of steps were taken to directly address the conduct of the harasser and offer Hannah lots of support, including rostering flexibility.
‘The employee [who committed the sexual harassment] immediately apologised and showed remorse,’ she said.
‘We assured her that she would never be compelled to work with the person with whom she made the claims.’
Qantas Group dismissed 12 employees for workplace harassment offences over the past year
On the TWU findings, Qantas Group stated the results represented a very small proportion of Qantas cabin crew.
The company stated there were clear processes for reporting and investigating workplace harassment, including whistleblower reporting.
‘Whistleblower reporting comes with additional protections to make it easier for people to come forward.’
Qantas Group dismissed 12 employees for workplace harassment offences over the past year.
A new program by the company will start later this year asking crew members what more the airlines can do to deal with harassment and create a more inclusive culture.
The spokeswoman reminds travellers that any passenger or crew member who harasses anyone on board will face the Australian Federal Police once the plane lands and would be placed on the airline’s ‘no fly’ list.
A spokeswoman from Virgin Australia said a ‘zero tolerance of inappropriate behaviour’ was upheld in the values, behaviour, and Code of Conduct of the airline
A spokeswoman from Virgin Australia said a ‘zero tolerance of inappropriate behaviour’ was upheld in the values, behaviour, and Code of Conduct of the airline.
‘The safety and wellbeing of our team members is our number one priority and the Virgin Australia Group is concerned by the results of this survey,’ she said.
The spokewoman added regular mandatory training was in place for every team member at Virgin Australia, which covered policies on sexual harassment, discrimination, and bullying.
Tigerair was contacted for comment.