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Emirates dodges pressing questions about CT teen's harassment ordeal on flight

11 March 2020 3:23 PM

Emirates was asked detailed questions about their protocols following a case of attempted sexual assault on one of their flights last week.

The airline's response was disappointing.

A Cape Town woman's 18-year-old daughter was sexually harassed and almost assaulted on an overnight flight last week Tuesday.

An intoxicated passenger in his 50s harassed and groped the young girl in the middle of the night while she slept.

When she complained, the cabin crew moved her to another seat - between two other men. Nothing else was done about the predatory passenger.

RELATED: Cape Town mom describes how airline brushed off daughter's harassment on flight

Consumer journalist Wendy Knowler sent a formal media inquiry to Emirates last week, asking several critical questions about the airline's procedures and staff training.

The spokesperson did not respond to any of the key questions that Knowler put to the airline.

This was all the airline had to say to Wendy Knowler:

"We place the highest priority on the safety and security of our customers and crew; we take all claims of assault very seriously and have stringent protocols in place for our crew to address them. We are deeply concerned to learn about the incident onboard the flight on 3 March, and have launched a full investigation."

Emirates also gave an unsatisfactory response to the mother of the teenage girl who was harassed.

This is what they said to Caroline, the victim's mother:

“Emirates is deeply concerned to learn of the allegations raised by your daughter. It goes without saying that we have launched an internal investigation surrounding the events you describe. The safety and comfort of our passengers and crew members are of paramount importance and we have strict protocols in place to address suchincidents. As she is no longer a minor, we require her consent for us to speak to you about thisincident.”

Caroline says she hopes this story will lead to better public awareness about what can be done in such cases as well as proper training for cabin crew.

RELATED: COVID19: These airlines will let you change or cancel flight bookings for free

Unfortunately, in-flight harassment is not a rare occurrence.

Despite this, Knowler says most cases reveal a lack of training among cabin crews in terms of how to handle on-board complaints of harassment or assault.

They know exactly how to handle passengers who are drunk and disorderly, verbally or physically abusive, but confronted by an allegation of an unwanted sexual advance, they don’t appear to have a set procedure to follow.

Wendy Knowler, Consumer journalist

Listen to the response and more case studies on ConsumerTalk with Wendy Knowler:

Every Wednesday, on The Pippa Hudson Show, Wendy Knowler provides useful insights and tips on how to make the most of your buying power.

For more stories visit the ConsumerTalk feature page.

Got a consumer case you need help resolving?

Email: consumer@knowler.co.za, put Cape Talk in the subject line, followed by the issue e.g. cellphone contract dispute.

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11 March 2020 3:23 PM

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