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Frontier Airlines Faces Class Action Lawsuit for Failing to Protect Victims of In-Flight Sexual Assault

Frontier Airlines Faces Class Action Lawsuit for Failing to Protect Victims of In-Flight Sexual Assault

Story Highlights
  • Lena Ramsay claims she was sexually assaulted by another passenger on a Frontier Airlines flight from Denver to Providence
  • She alleges that the flight attendant refused to let her switch seats or call law enforcement
  • Ramsay and another plaintiff also claim Frontier refused to hand over details of their assailants to law enforcement
  • The class-action suit demands Frontier introduce policies to combat in-flight sexual assault

Denver-based low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines faces a class-action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado over claims it has failed to implement policies to stop or properly respond to in-flight sexual assaults and that is has let down victims who had been sexually assaulted on its planes. 

The suit was filed on Monday and Frontier has been given 30-days to offer damages and introduce appropriate policies.

Lead plaintiff Lena Ramsay claims she was sexually assaulted by a male passenger on Frontier Airlines flight F9-836 from Denver to Providence on October 20, 2018.  Ms Ramsay reported the assault to a flight attendant but alleges the crew member refused to let her switch seats, instead forcing her to remain sat next to her abuser for the rest of the flight.

The suit claims the flight attendant also failed to request law enforcement to meet the aircraft on arrival in Providence or even file any kind of report about what had happened.  If that wasn’t bad enough, Ms Ramsay accuses Frontier Airlines of failing to cooperate or assist in the investigation, including failing to hand over details of the alleged assailant and witnesses to the FBI.

An almost identical case perpetrated against an unnamed plaintiff is also detailed in the lawsuit.  That alleged assault took place just over a month after Ms Ramsay’s assault on a Frontier Airlines flight from Denver to Orlando.  Again, the lawsuit accuses a Frontier flight attendant of failing to report the incident or request the presence of law enforcement upon arrival.

In that incident, Frontier is again accused of failing to provide details of the alleged assailant and potential witnesses.

“Based on these incidents, it appears that Frontier Airlines does not have and/or enforce adequate policies and procedures to prevent sexual assaults on its flights and to properly respond to incidents that do happen,” the suit, which is being brought by Lieff Cabraser attorney, reads.

“If true, Frontier Airlines’ misconduct would constitute negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, intentional infliction of emotional distress, recklessness, and other violations of applicable law.”

According to a survey by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), one out of five flight attendants has had a ‘passenger on passenger’ sexual assault allegation reported to them during a flight.  The union explained that the most common strategies to deal with these allegations was to immediately seperate the parties and call law enforcement to meet the plane.

However, the majority of flight attendants say they don’t recall receiving any specific training on how to deal with sexual assault allegations and were simply doing what they thought was the right thing to do in the circumstances.

Sara Nelson, the leader of AFA who’s been dubbed ‘the most powerful flight attendant in America’, has been vocal in calling on airlines to set clear policies and procedures to address sexual assault.  Nelson has demanded airlines set out concrete measures to stop in-flight sexual assault and harassment and her union has already had some notable successes.

The CEO’s of both United Airlines and Alaska have both publicly called out inappropriate passenger behaviour and Spirit Airlines sent a memo to staffers telling them it wouldn’t tolerate any form of harassment, intimidation or other offensive conduct.

Despite high profile campaigns led by advocates like Nelson, in-flight sexual assault remains a problem for airlines around the world – many haven’t introduced any kind of training for flight attendants or other employees.

We reached out to Frontier for comment, specifically asking whether any policies or procedures had been introduced.  We had not received a response by the time of publication.

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