I Saw An Air Hostess Being Harassed In-Flight, And The Culprits Escaped Unpunished

Posted by Priyanka Sabu in Society, Staff Picks
May 14, 2017

As I boarded the SpiceJet flight SG104 from Chennai on May 6, 2017, scheduled at 7 AM, I had only two things on my mind – eat and sleep till it reached Delhi. Little did I know that I’d be losing my sleep for days because of three unruly co-passengers.

I was seated on 2C and the three men (in the photograph) were seated on seats 1A, 1B and 1C. The one on 1B (extreme right in the pic) slyly clicked a few photographs of the air hostess. When I informed the crew members, the steward asked me whether this took place before take-off. When I said yes, he told me that they had already noticed it and had asked him to delete the photographs.

The three accused men

An hour later, when the breakfast trays were cleared, the air hostess returned to the front. He again started clicking her from different angles, while zooming-in on her private parts. This time he was careful enough not to get noticed by her. The two other men encouraged him as he shamelessly continued to click, even after he had been told-off by the steward earlier!

When I saw this, I called her and told her that he was still clicking pictures of her. She confirmed with me if I was sure. Then, she said something to him which I couldn’t hear. However, he continued showing those photos to both the men sitting next to him.

The man sitting on seat 2D looked at me, saw my discomfort and smiled apologetically. I wanted to shout at them for what they were doing, but I was scared and alone. The crew would soon take-off to another city after the flight landed, but I had to get down in Delhi. Besides, I was travelling alone. I feared that if I confronted them, they would follow me. I was only able to think of things so bad that I could not gather the courage to speak directly to them.

After the flight landed, as those men were leaving the aircraft, I asked her if she got the photographs deleted. She said she wasn’t able to do that. What disturbed me the most was her reply when I asked her to tell me their names so that I could report them. She was embarrassed, ashamed and upset – and yet, she smiled. She told me, “It’s my job. You know, once, someone even grabbed my ass.”

I could only manage to say that it’s horrible. She kept thanking me and I kept thinking that this wasn’t okay. Since I did not have their names, I decided to click their photos in the shuttle from the aircraft to the airport (the way they had clicked hers) and do something about it.

Here, I would like to say the following:

To the 3 stupid men: I hope this photo reaches you, and you feel ashamed for what you have done. I hope your families see it and put some sense into your brains.

To the air hostess: It’s not your job to put-up with such cheap behaviour and any sort of harassment. Yes, you may never see them again in your life – but a lot of other women will. Please stop them when you have the power to do so, in your hands. Later, I got to know that you could’ve easily gotten them arrested on ground, by informing the incident to the captain of the flight.

To SpiceJet and all other airlines: Can you please train your air hostesses to not take such incidents lightly? Can you please give them the liberty to not smile at people who are harassing them? They are your employees – you have got to take care of their safety and dignity.

To the onlookers: Please help one another in such situations. Please don’t just look away from a crime and feel safe! For all you know, the next time these people could do this to someone you care about!

I’ve now spent many sleepless nights thinking of better ways in which I could’ve dealt with this. However, I did not think of it back then, and hence, I can’t do anything now. At that time, I did whatever came to my mind.

Since then, my friends and I have reported this incident to the SpiceJet authorities on Twitter and Facebook. SpiceJet replied saying, “Please be assured, the same has been shared with the concerned heads and necessary measures will be taken internally.” However, this is not acceptable, at all. This is exactly how people get away after doing horrible things.

SpiceJet should announce to the world what actions it has taken against these men. It should set an example for others, so that no one dares to misbehave with these hard-working women ever again – so that they feel safe while flying!

I am demanding for the details of the action taken by SpiceJet not only as a witness – but also as someone who has been at the receiving end of unwanted stares and touches (like many other Indian women)! Taking strict actions against such miscreants openly is a must if we want to effectively deal with catcalling, objectification, eve-teasing and rape culture that we face in our country.

It is a must, because this is not a one-off incident where the dignity and modesty of an air hostess has been attacked in the skies. Here are a few links to the accounts of other such victims:

The silent struggles of air hostesses

Air India air hostesses harassed by British Nationals, airline begins probe

Air Hostess alleges sexual harassment by passengers

Sickos we meet mid-air

– from a hopeful Indian woman.


Image by author