A female Flight Attendant claims she was groped and threatened during an alleged incident on an Emirates flight from Los Angeles to Dubai on April 13th, 2019. The Flight Attendant, who has been working for Emirates for 12 years, has also claimed she was then suspended without pay for one month pending a psychiatric evaluation. Emirates denies that claim.
Emirates has a daily A380 service between Los Angeles and Dubai, EK216. It departs Los Angeles late every afternoon for the 16-hour flight to Dubai. The Flight Attendant in question was a senior supervisory Flight Attendant on the flight.
The incident has been reported in The Points Guy. It seems the passenger, a 31-year-old male Jordanian national, elected to move from his economy seat to business class upstairs on the A380. Perhaps deciding the business class seat was not entirely to his satisfaction – maybe he thought he would be mistaken for a passenger traveling on an unbundled business class fare – he bumped himself up again to the plusher confines of the first class cabin.
As The Points Guy story points out, a double upgrade – a very neat trick. It would be a kind of amusing story about gauche passenger behavior if it went no further. But it went further.
Physically and sexually assaulted
When the Flight Attendant attempted to get the man to return to the seat he’d paid for, he allegedly became verbally abusive. She says he twisted her arm, groped her, and threatened to get her sacked.
The Points Guy story is based on an article in The Khaleej Times. The male passenger appeared in Dubai’s Court of First Instance on Sunday, August 4th, 2019, facing multiple charges in relation to the incident. He is accused of sexually and physically assaulting the 35-year-old Ghanian national Flight Attendant.
The Flight Attendant told the Dubai Prosecutor’s Office that;
“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. 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.”
Another Flight Attendant on board, also approached the passenger, telling him to return to his proper seat.
“He told me to go away and not argue with him as he did not care about the procedures. I spotted him later following the victim to the upper floor. He boasted later at the airport that he was an American citizen and knew people in the police.”
He allegedly raised his fist at this Flight Attendant, as if threatening her.
Having followed the first Flight Attendant (the complainant) upstairs, he allegedly twisted her arm and groped her.
The passenger’s father was also onboard the flight. He approached the Flight Attendant in question and asked her not to report the matter. She reported him anyway.
Was the Flight Attendant suspended?
There seems to be a degree of agreement about this chain of events on board. The stories diverge about what happened next to the Flight Attendant.
How did Emirates handle the situation? The Flight Attendant told the court she was considered not fit to deal with passengers and Emirates suspended her;
“I was suspended and did not receive my salary for one month pending my mental evaluation by a psychiatrist.”
Emirates, for its part, denies this. A spokesperson for Emirates told Simple Flying that;
“Emirates takes the safety of its passengers and crew very seriously. The cabin crew from this flight is being given full support and was never suspended without pay. We cannot comment further on the alleged incident as this matter is now before the courts.”
Two versions of events. This woman is a senior Flight Attendant with 12 years old experience. Presumably, Emirates values her both professionally and as a human being. While bad passenger behavior is common enough, she says she’s never had to deal with anything like this before. Nonetheless, she claims she dealt with the matter professionally and has many witnesses to support her claims.
For his part, the passenger is being prosecuted and will return to court in September.
One can only hope that a global brand like Emirates would fully support its Flight Attendants and live by the words of its statement.