A 31-year old man has been accused of sexually harassing and assaulting a long-serving member of Emirates cabin crew on a near 16-hour flight between Los Angeles (LAX) and Dubai (DXB). The incident is alleged to have taken place back on the 13th April but details only became public when the suspect appeared at Dubai’s court of first instance on Sunday.
The cabin crew purser told the court that things started to get out of hand when the suspect decided to self-upgrade himself from his Economy Class seat up to Business Class. That’s not all that uncommon but when the purser challenged the suspect, he simply ignored her and moved from that seat into a spare First Class suite.
“We faced a problem with one passenger – the defendant – who was travelling in the economy class and moved on his own to the Business Class,” the 35-year-old purser and head cabin crew member is reported to have told the court.
“He would not want to listen to me as I tried to explain to him about the airline’s regulations. He then moved to the First Class and put the earpiece on while insulting me.”
It appears that the man’s father got involved and managed to calm the situation down while pleading with the cabin crew not to take the matter any further. Unfortunately, the peace didn’t last very long…
While the purser was helping in the Economy Cabin on the A380’s main deck, the suspect started shouting out verbal abuse and then followed her onto the upper deck.
“He then called me names and followed me to the upper floor,” she told the court.
“He twisted my arm and groped me for a few seconds. The man damaged my work card as I screamed at him to let go of me. During the police interrogation, he said that I was not his type.”
Cabin crew member suspended without pay
At different points, the suspect allegedly told the victim that he didn’t want to look at her or any other crew member, that he knew someone in the Dubai police and that he could get the purser and other crew members sacked. At one point, he raised his fist at another crew member making her fear that he was going to punch her.
The purser, who has worked for Emirates for over 12-years, cried as she told the court that she has been suspended from flying without pay because of the emotional damage the incident has caused her. Giving evidence, the purser said she wasn’t paid by Emirates for over a month after being suspended while she awaited psychological evaluation.
She has apparently been deemed unfit to deal with passengers, although it’s unclear whether the airline is offering any other support or if an alternative job has been found for the victim. The trial has been adjourned and is expected to continue on September 10