EVA flight attendant accuses passenger of sexual harassment

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TAIPEI (CNA) — An EVA Air female flight attendant on Jan. 21 accused a foreign passenger of sexual harassment during a flight from Los Angeles to Taipei on Jan. 19, criticizing the airline for not supporting its staff.

Accompanied by representatives from the Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union, the flight attendant, who declined to give her name, said an overweight man confined to a wheelchair informed her he required assistance going to the bathroom about two hours into the flight.

The man asked the flight attendant making the complaint and two other female members of staff to help him remove his underwear, indicating he was unable to do so himself.

“I felt that as a flight attendant, removing a passenger’s underwear was beyond the scope of my responsibilities,” said the deputy cabin service head.

Despite their reluctance, three female members of the flight crew, EVA has no male flight attendants, tried to cover the passenger’s genitals with a blanket while taking off his underwear.

The flight attendant said it was then that the passenger slapped her hand causing her to drop the blanket and exposing himself. He also demanded that the lavatory door be kept open, otherwise “he couldn’t breathe.” The crew managed to keep the door closed, but when the man was finished, he refused to leave the bathroom unless they help him wipe his bottom.

The crew initially refused, but considering the need for other passengers to use the toilet, the cabin service director eventually did as the man asked. It was while helping him that the passenger started to make moaning noises and said “deeper,” deputy cabin service head said.

The union said the incident clearly constituted sexual harassment and asked that EVA sue the passenger, who has caused trouble on several previous occasions when flying with the company.

Moreover, it was revealed that the passenger in question defecated in his underwear on a previous flight in May 2018, after which the airline did not place him on a blacklist, but rather left frontline flight attendants to deal with the man every time he flew with the airline, the union said.

The union urged EVA to establish standard operation procedures, including making sure that physically-challenged passengers are accompanied by a caretaker, and that flight attendants have the final say when asked to do something that makes them uncomfortable or they consider unreasonable.

Later Monday, EVA issued a press statement saying flight staff are perfectly entitled to refuse passenger’s requests they consider inappropriate. They also pointed out that male cabin staff also helped the passenger in question during the flight.

The company also said it backs the flight staff completely and are prepared to offer assistance, if needed, to sue the passenger.

By Lee Hsin-Yin