On an Alaska Airlines flight from Portland to San Diego on Tuesday first class passenger Mike Timon was accused of “touching the flight attendant’s buttocks,” and has been banned from the airline.
He says he “he touched the woman ‘politely’ on her back — not her buttocks — to get her attention and order a drink.”
I do not think he understands how you order a drink, because it doesn’t involve touching a woman’s low back region that descends towards her buttocks (or touching her at all for that matter). I find that a simple “excuse me” usually works if I cannot get a flight attendant’s attention non-verbally.
And though it’s fairly verboten to use the call button at your seat in anything but a life threatening emergency in the U.S. (it shouldn’t be) that too would be much preferred. Indeed, the man didn’t get his drink (another flight attendant let him know he was ‘cut off’ when he pressed the call button to complain he hadn’t been served) but he did get met by police on arrival in San Diego.
Timon, who said he is a frequent first-class flier, said that after he touched the flight attendant and requested a drink, none came.
He said he later pressed his call button, and a male flight attendant came by and told him he’d had been cut off from alcohol, that he’d assaulted the flight attendant and that police would be waiting for him in San Diego.
The longtime owner of a company that bought and sold medical equipment said he’d had one drink, was not unruly and was “100 percent sober” at the time of the encounter.
Oh, he says it’s discrimination that his behavior is being made into a big deal. And he’s threatening legal action.
“What about us guys?” Timon said. “I can’t tap a flight attendant on her back to politely ask for something, yet I get accused of something? It’s out of control and I am pissed.”
Sexual harassment of flight attendants should not be permitted. Full stop. And no, a passenger cannot “tap a flight attendant on the back.” What is wrong with people? The striking thing about this story is that he’s incredulous.
It would be a mistake, however, to link zero tolerance for that sort of behavior with “reinforc[ing] our safety role as aviation’s first responders” as Association of Flight Attendants President Sara Nelson seeks to do. “Here primarily for your safety” is code to every frequent flyer for indifference towards service.
Saying flight attendants deserve decency and respect does not mean flight attendants aren’t ambassadors for an airline’s brand and that their job doesn’t involve customer service. Put another way customer service has nothing to do with sex.