By Chabeli Herrera
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) According to a recent survey by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), nearly 70 percent of flight attendants in the U.S. have experienced sexual harassment in their careers.
It has been 17 years since Liza Sanchez got her first real taste of the pervasive sexual harassment that for decades has been accepted on airplanes.
The flight attendant was in her early 20s, just starting out, when she pushed the drink cart up to row two on a Spirit Airlines flight. The man in the aisle seat was tall with brown hair and striking blue eyes. As she bent down to take his drink order, his gaze lingered on her chest.
“Wow,” he told her, eying her breasts. “I bet your boyfriend must love to lay on those pillows.”
She knew, from speaking to the older flight attendants, to expect this kind of behavior and brush it off, Sanchez said in an interview. But dealing with it first-hand?
“I just didn’t expect it, I wasn’t prepared for it. Now, I’m prepared for it,” she said. “I’ve been spoken to like this almost my entire life.”
After 18 years as a flight attendant, the frequency of the harassment hasn’t changed, Sanchez said. She has, though, become more confident in calling out harassers when they say something inappropriate or reach out to grab her.
And, propelled by the growing surge of opposition against harassment sparked by the #MeToo movement, Sanchez and her colleagues have also seen another major change: They can now more openly denounce, rather than accept, the harassment they face in the air.
According to a recent survey by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), nearly 70 percent of flight attendants in the U.S. have experienced sexual harassment in their careers.