Almost 70 per cent of flight attendants say they have been sexually harassed while doing their jobs, a new survey has revealed.
The study is the first of its kind to be carried out by USA union the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA).
Late past year, United CEO Oscar Munoz called for "zero tolerance" of sexual harassment following reports that Randi Zuckerberg, a media executive and sister of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, reported she was sexually harassed while a passenger on an Alaska Airlines flight.
Out of the total attendants participated in the group, 18 percent claimed that they had experienced physical sexual harassment within the previous year, and of that group, 40% said they were subjected to this harassment for three or more times.
The survey is the first of its kind and notably comes amid the #MeToo movement. The president of Southwest's flight attendants union, Lyn Montgomery, said training needs to be developed for cabin crews "to give us the tools to handle incidents and protect the rights of victims". "The airlines for a very long time sold tickets based on defining air travel in a sexual way and oftentimes flight attendants were the object of that".
"They also report being subjected to passengers" explicit sexual fantasies, propositions, request [s] for sexual "favors' and pornographic videos and pictures", said the union.
Meanwhile despite the prominent #MeToo movement, 68 per cent of flight attendants say there have been no efforts by airlines to address workplace harassment in the previous year.
'Flight attendants are first responders. She further added, "This is an industry that is steeped in a sexist past".
The AFA said it has been working with Alaska, United and Spirit Airlines to help revamp their anti-harassment policies, training and reporting procedures.
More than 3,500 flight attendants from 29 USA airlines participated in the survey.
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For airlines, Nelson stressed, rampant harassment has serious ramifications that go beyond the abuse and assault of workers.
It's not just passengers flight attendants have to be concerned about, either. Demographics of participants include gender ratios consistent with national averages of 80 percent women to 20 percent men.
35% experienced verbal sexual harassment from passengers in the a year ago.
It revealed that 69 per cent said they had experienced sexual harassment during their flying careers.
An April internal employee memo signed by American's six top executives including CEO Doug Parker said the carrier is in the process of updating its sexual harassment training, stating "we will always look for ways to do more".
18% experienced physical sexual harassment from passengers in the previous year.
More than 40 per cent of those suffered physical abuse three or more times. "Other abuse included passengers cornering or lunging at them followed by unwanted hugs, kisses and humping".
68% of flight attendants say they have not noticed any employer efforts over the past year to address sexual harassment at work. "It's time for all of us - airlines, unions, regulators, legislators and passengers - to put a stop to behaviors that can no longer be condoned".
Calling on the entire industry to face the issue head-on, Nelson is also asking the travelling public to get involved and demand an environment that provides flight attendants with the "respect and dignity they need to do their jobs".