Dana LaRue, who blogs as The Broke-Ass Bride, fell asleep during a flight and woke up to find her seatmate's hand, "high on my upper, inner thigh. I thought it possible that it slipped down there while he was asleep, given the narrow nature of the seats on the craft, so I moved my leg away and went back to sleep. A while later, I awoke to find him pressed up against my arm, one hand on my leg, the other hand fumbling around my breasts."
She describes herself as "paralyzed with confusion and fear," extremely common in such situations. "I tried to work up the courage to approach the flight crew or gate security, but (and this is something that you'd never fully understand unless you've been assaulted) that kind of violation and fear often leaves victims too stunned and shocked to take immediate action," she writes.
Right after she got off the plane, she called customer service in hopes that she would be able to intercept the man on his layover and prevent him from doing the same to another passenger.
The customer service representative that I reached listened to my story, and responded, as if reading from a script: "I am sorry for the inconvenience, but because you failed to report it in-flight, there is nothing we can do for you."
Several other Spirit reps were similarly unhelpful. A series of calls to the TSA and other agencies later, LaRue filed an official police report; she ays they were "completely understanding of my inability to immediately report the assault, and showed great compassion for my plight and urgency in bringing justice to the situation." To Spirit, she writes, "I know it is not Spirit Airline's fault that I was assaulted on your plane. But it is your responsibility, once made aware that there is a dangerous traveler in your midst, to take whatever steps necessary to ensure the protection of your passengers."
LaRue happens to have her own following, including 15,000 Twitter followers, which may explain why Spirit rather promptly wrote to her and said, "We apologize if our initial response seemed insensitive and delayed." She isn't satisfied, writing, "Your wording suggests that there's some unwritten statute of limitations on your ability to react or protect your passengers.... The lack of concern and urgency regarding my safety and the safety of your passengers and crew is astoundingly irresponsible and shameful on the part of your company."