Some Sort of Record: Man Gropes 3 Women on 45 Minute United Flight

Do I even need to mention that he was drunk?

Onboard United flight UA1683 on Tuesday night a passenger “grabbed the thigh of the woman next to him” immediately after boarding. She swatted his hand away, he did it again, she told him to stop and he didn’t. So she went to the back of the plane for help from a flight attendant.

Changing her seat to one a row back and across the aisle didn’t manage to stop him from trying again. Although since she was harder to reach he also moved on to other victims.

Campos said she overheard the man asking to kiss the woman in the window seat of her row and touching her face while she told him to stop. The flight attendant moved that woman to a seat directly behind the man, Campos said.

The man then repeatedly touched Campos’ fiance across the aisle, and she told him not to touch her, according to Campos’ account. He continued to turn around in his seat and stare at Campos and the other woman who had been in their aisle, Campos said.


United Planes Parked at Newark

She pressed her call button wanting a flight attendant’s help but the aircraft was in final approach so there was little that could be done, “It continued to escalate, and the only reason it ended is that the flight was ending,” she said.

United reports that the captain had radioed ahead for law enforcement to meet the aircraft, and the man was removed on arrival in Buffalo. Given the short duration of the flight there really wasn’t much of an opportunity to divert and have him apprehended more quickly. It seems the only alternative inflight would have been to physically restrain the man who allegedly had been drinking before boarding the aircraft.

The 282 mile flight is blocked at 1 hour and 25 minutes, but as much of that is on the ground in Newark as in the air. Harassing one woman for every 15 minutes in the air surely must compete for some kind of record of awfulness.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I’m not sure why it took them five minutes to check on the other women in the row. Also, why did they move them one row back where he still had access to them? If true those seem like the largest errors by the airline. Maybe those were the only seats open. I get that this escalated, but for many of the issues raised by the woman the airline’s hands was tied. Specifically they aren’t able to go to the seat when the plane is landing, they aren’t able to turn all the lights on when the plane is landing. They notified the police immediately. Its such a short flight that the focus seemed to be just getting him into police custody as quick as possible at the destination. They didn’t restrain him because his behavior escalated while the plane was landing, so there would be no way to do so at that time. There may have been a few things the airline could have done differently (although this is based on the passenger’s account of what happened and who knows if the airline has a slightly different view of the events in terms of the timeline etc). Also, this doesn’t sound like sexual harassment, it sounds like sexual assault and is a crime.

  2. I bet he’s going to be our next president of the United States one they impeach the groper in chief, he seems pretty qualified.

  3. if he gets in WH, i bet he is going to be work closely with a intern and said that was not but personal, or putting some email server at home.

  4. My only question – could he walk unaided off the plane? Did his fingers still work? Don’t be too polite, ladies. A lot is allowable as self-defense.

  5. I think it’s legal to carry a hammer, a saftey pin or a fork in your purse. This guy needed to go home with a remnant of his abusive actions. Guys who do this are prone to disrepect, alcohol or not.

  6. Ugh, that’s so disgusting. Old men who think young prey will want them. I’m glad you’re taking a stand against going after younger people – even if you view them as protegés, Gary.

  7. It is time for my fellow men to step in if the airlines won’t. What would have happened if she had asked politely, them firmly, then asked the flight attendant, then used banned lipstick pepper spray on the guy? Would she have been hauled off the plane?. If a male passenger who is larger and stronger than the groper would have confronted him about the behavior it would have either stopped or forced the airline to do more. How much do we care about our mothers, sisters, daughters, and wives if we let assholes like this do serial groping without calling them on their behavior? Let’s at least commit to not electing dems and republicans to office when they brag about it.

  8. And ideally some guy would have applauded your response to a sexual ASSAULT. We are so wierd about sex in this country that we don’t see it as assault. If that same idiot had punched you in the face I hope someone would have responded. I hope my daughters inhabit a world where that behavior is checked rather than defended as locker room talk when 95+% of us don’t talk like that in locker rooms.

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