Randi Zuckerberg, a Silicon Valley businesswoman and sister to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, detailed on Twitter how a man on a recent flight engaged her in sexually demeaning conversation — and the flight attendants' woefully inadequate response to the remarks.
"I was put in an extremely uncomfortable situation," Zuckerberg wrote in an open letter to Alaska Airlines Wednesday night.
She explained how a male passenger sitting next to her made her feel uncomfortable.
"He started talking to me about touching himself, kept asking me if I fantasized about the female business colleague I was traveling with, rated and commented on the women's bodies boarding the aircraft as they walked by us, and many more equally horrifying and offensive comments," she wrote.
As any reasonable person would do in that kind of situation, Zuckerberg took her complaints directly to the Alaska Airlines' flight crew. But upon expressing her issue with the passenger, Zuckerberg said she was met with a dismissive response.
Feeling disgusted & degraded after an @AlaskaAir flight where the passenger next to me made repeated lewd sexual remarks. The flight attendants told me he was a frequent flier, brushed off his behavior & kept giving him drinks. I guess his $ means more than our safety? My letter: pic.twitter.com/xOkDpb0dYU— Randi Zuckerberg (@randizuckerberg) November 30, 2017
"When I brought it to the flight attendants' attention, their response was that this guy was a frequent Alaska Airlines traveler" who they had talked to "about his behavior in the past," Zuckerberg wrote. The flight attendants also said, "don't take it personally."
The attendants followed up on Zuckerberg's complaints by coming to her seat "a few times and sweetly [asking] the passenger, 'Are you behaving today?' with a smile and a giggle," she elaborated.
Zuckerberg was told she had the choice to move, which she refused to do.
"Why should I have to move? I am the one that is being harassed," she wrote.
The flight attendants kept giving the passenger drinks, according to Zuckerberg, all while he kept making insensitive remarks to her — including commenting on the recent spate of sexual harassment and assault allegations being made public.
"'These millennial women just aren't willing to give some booty to get a job anymore,'" Zuckerberg quoted the passenger as saying.
Zuckerberg ended her letter by expressing her outrage at "knowingly and willingly providing this man with a platform to harass women," and for being more worried about "taking his money than for the safety" of others who had to endure his behavior.
In response to her letter, Alaska Airlines tweeted its own message directly to Zuckerberg, saying they have launched their own inquiry into the matter.
What you have shared with us is very disturbing. We have launched an investigation and have revoked this passenger's travel privileges pending the outcome of that investigation. We wish to discuss this further with you. Please DM us so we can connect tonight.— Alaska Airlines (@AlaskaAir) November 30, 2017
Zuckerberg is absolutely right: It is abhorrent that this man would be given preferential treatment over another passenger he was harassing. This type of behavior shouldn't have been forgiven, even if the male passenger had paid for his ticket.
Every passenger on every flight has a responsibility to behave themselves, to follow rules that make flying safe for everyone else on board, and when they disobey those rules, it can result in some serious consequences.
That didn't happen here — and Zuckerberg did the right thing by publicly bringing it up on Twitter. She had already expressed her outrage to the company directly, but when those concerns weren't adequately responded to, she took her message to a broader audience. She should be commended for doing so.
Banner / Thumbnail : Reuters