I honestly didn’t even know this was a thing until very recently. I am so very, very lucky that after a lifetime of flying round and round the world and many years of flying domestically in the USA I haven’t had a problem, but after some recent news coverage of sexual assault on planes my radar is now firmly tuned in.

The following article from Smarter Travel is important reading for anyone who will be getting on a plane, ever. If I can throw in my two cents it would be this: Just as you are trapped in a small space when you are on a plane, so is the perpetrator. Fight. Yell, scream, hit, kick, do whatever you can as loudly as you can. Scream for help. We live and fly in a post 9/11 era. Other passengers will be quick to help you.

In front of everyone and at the top of your voice demand the flight attendants move the perpetrator and demand the pilot radios ahead for the police. When a plane full of people are witnessing what is happening, action will be taken.

The following article was written by Shannon McMahon and first appeared on SmarterTravel.com on March 19th 2018.

image via SmarterTravel.com

WHAT TO DO IF IN-FLIGHT SEXUAL ASSAULT HAPPENS TO YOU

A lot of terrible things can happen on a plane. An anxious mind might run through them before take-off: a runway crash, mid-flight mechanical issues, a medical emergency. But how often do you worry about a fellow passenger committing sexual assault?

In-flight sexual assault is a problem that’s remained largely under the radar until the #MeToo era, as passengers question airlines’ handling (or lack thereof) of sexual assault on their planes. Delta is currently being sued by a passenger who says the airline filed no formal report after she was sexually assaulted on one of its flights, the Seattle Times recently reported.

A recent survey from the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, a union of 50,000 flight attendants across 20 airlines, suggests that in-flight sexual assault allegations are reported to law enforcement less than half of the time. The AFA survey also found that one in five flight attendants had encountered a passenger-on-passenger in-flight sexual assault.

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What to Do if There’s a Sexual Assault on Your Flight

Who’s responsible for your safety when the cabin lights dim, and what happens after an in-flight sexual assault if that near-unthinkable prospect becomes a reality?

Because Delta and other airlines declined my requests for comment, I asked the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA what passengers should do in the event of an in-flight sexual assault, and what airlines are doing to adapt. AFA president and spokesperson Taylor Garland tells me two airlines stand out in better handling in-flight sexual assault, and shared some key to-dos.


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Know the Basics

One of the main problems with in-flight sexual assault is that airlines often respond to them the same way they would to an unruly passenger, despite the fact that sex-related crimes are more sensitive.

“All flight attendants go through de-escalation training and unruly passenger training. We are also trained to respond to assault,” Garland says.  “There is no specific training for flight attendants on how to handle sexual assault.

 Still, some airlines are better about handling the issue: “Alaska Airlines and United Airlines have been working to update policies and training to address sexual assault,” Garland says. “They’re leading the industry on this and we’re not aware of any other airline doing the same.”

The FAA doesn’t require any sexual assault-specific training for flight attendants, and crimes committed on an airplane fall under federal jurisdiction (the FBI if you’re in the United States).

Alert a Flight Attendant

The first responders in these situations are the cabin crew.

“Do your best to notify a flight attendant,” Garland says. “Sometimes this is hard to do if passengers are seated in a window seat, where they might physically have to climb over the perpetrator to get to a crew member.”

Victims in a window seat unable to get out of their row should use the call button, and loudly object to make sure others around them know there’s a problem. Garland notes witnesses, too, can be responsible for speaking up and helping report sexual assault: “If you witness something on a plane, always alert a flight attendant.”

The lack of personal space and presence of alcohol on planes can also be factors in an in-flight sexual assault. “Seats are closer together so the line of sight is diminished among passengers, and with fewer flight attendants there is simply less oversight,” Garland says. “On night flights the cabin is dark. Alcohol is an issue. This is commonly reported as a more frequent factor when flying to a vacation destination or places like Las Vegas.”

Request a New Seat

The main response to an in-flight sexual assault is to re-seat the victim away from their assaulter, so this should be your first request if it’s not done right away. “In every instance, there should be an effort to immediately separate the passengers,” Garland said.

This can be difficult in crowded cabins, but removing yourself from the issue is, as in most altercations, the first step.

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Make Sure the Pilot Knows

“Procedures would also call for reporting the incident to the flight deck and the airline, at a minimum,” Garland says. This is how law enforcement will be notified and able to meet you at the gate for assistance.

“There is not a direct reporting process,” Garland notes. “The flight attendants report to the flight deck, who reports to ground personnel for the airline, who in return would report to local law enforcement or the FBI. Unless there has been some other disruption/interference with the flight crew, the victim must say they want to file charges.”

That last part is important—because airlines have little legal responsibility in these situations, victims of in-flight sexual assault will often have to advocate for themselves to ensure proper reporting steps are followed. Ask questions to make sure law enforcement will be waiting for you at the gate.

Contact the Airline

While your first priority as a victim or a witness should be to deal with the immediate situation and to speak with law enforcement, follow up with the airline afterward to make sure the incident is documented internally, as well. With no inflight protocol for assaults that are sexual in nature, airlines should be adapting with the times, the AFA says:

“Flight attendants need the tools to be able to address this. AFA also calls on airports, airlines, and government agencies to immediately enlist everyone traveling in an effort to stop sexual harassment and sexual assault. The greater the discussion around denouncing these acts, the safer all passengers, crew, and airport workers will be,” Garland says.

“Onboard sexual assault is a unique crime and should be identified as one.

SmarterTravel Editor Shannon McMahon is a former news reporter who writes about all things travel. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.


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travel insurance

 

Should you buy travel insurance?

I don’t buy travel insurance for domestic flights, but I always buy travel insurance for international travel.

I have been wanting to tell you 3 stories from this summer’s travels, centering around travel insurance. This post will contain affiliate links to the travel insurance company I have used for years, Allianz. (See Disclosure)

3 Examples Why  You Should Buy Travel Insurance.

In each of these examples having or not having travel insurance was a trip altering factor. It should be noted that I emphatically recommend that my travelers buy travel insurance.

Not sure what travel insurance is? Read Travel Insurance 101 ~ How Travel Insurance Works

Story Number One:

One of my Glam Italia Tour travelers wasn’t paying attention at the airport and didn’t see her flight from her home airport to Charlotte had changed gates. She missed her flight. This meant that she couldn’t get to Charlotte in time to catch her flight to Rome, which set off a very expensive chain of events, and meant that she lost the first day of her 11 day tour.

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There is only one flight per day from Charlotte to Rome, and it leaves at 6pm. My traveler had to stay overnight in Charlotte, which meant hotel expenses, she had to buy food in Charlotte – 3 meals. When she arrived in Rome 24 hours late I wasn’t there to meet her because I was in Florence with the other ladies on her tour. Her tour price had included all internal travel in Italy, but now she had to buy a ticket from the airport to the main train station, then a last minute ticket from Termini train station in Rome to Florence at a little over double the price of the original ticket, and get to Florence by herself. All these expenses had to come out of the money she brought with her for her trip, which in turn meant that she couldn’t buy things that she wanted to and had to stick to a very tight budget on her once-in-a-lifetime trip to Italy.

She hadn’t purchased travel insurance, so it was all a complete loss. Had she bought a travel policy Allianz would have covered her under the missed connection portion of the policy, and she may have been able to recover the cost of the missed day of her tour.


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Missed flights are a nuisance, but they are part of travel. Sometimes your flight arrives late and your connecting flight has departed. Travel insurance can help offset those costs, or completely cover them.

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Related Post: Everything You Need To Know About Travel Insurance

Story Number Two:

Another of my travelers had an issue this summer.

She flew to Rome from JFK airport in New York, but her suitcase went on a world tour of it’s own. Firstly it went to Boston, then it went missing for a while, then it popped up in Amsterdam, disappeared again, went back to New York, and finally came to Rome on day 8 of her 11 day tour.

Her first phone call was to Allianz. They got involved and were able to circumvent the endless hassles of being on hold with the airlines for an hour at a time (at international calling rates!) and got things moving with trying to locate the suitcase. They also covered my traveler for buying clothes, shoes, makeup and toiletries so that she could get on with enjoying her trip.

Her travel insurance policy had cost her under $100, and it paid for itself many times over!


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Story Number Three:

This one is my personal story. A week prior to heading to Europe to lead 6 weeks of private tours, I went to Belize on a makeup job. While there I breathed in some kind of heinous spores (as did the photographer and the photo assistant), which incubated for about 10 days and then turned into the worst cough you can imagine. For almost all of the time I was in Europe I had to sleep sitting up. I coughed and coughed and coughed. I also had to go to multiple doctor visits and was given multiple medications. Steroids kept the coughing largely under control for the 2nd half of the time I was away.

Did you know that most private health insurance plans don’t cover you when you’re traveling abroad? Learn More.

 

Allianz was able to track down doctors for me in the various places across Italy that the tours traveled to, and took care of reimbursement for all expenses.

Getting sick while you are traveling can be a nightmare. Travel insurance not only offsets the costs of medical care, but a good travel insurance company will help you get English speaking doctors.

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In my opinion the main reason to buy travel insurance for an international trip is the medical coverage. Catching a bad cold or a sinus infection is a nuisance but not the end of the world. Getting hit by a car, getting appendicitis, having a heart attack or an aneurysm?? Major, major deal. When choosing a travel insurance policy look at the medical coverage. If something goes drastically wrong you need to make sure you have excellent medical cover and, depending on where you are traveling to, emergency evacuation back home.

For example, if I had to go to hospital in France or in Australia I know that I would be getting the very best medical care in the world and at realistic prices, so I would stay there. If I was in an under developed country or a country with sub-standard medical facilities I would want to get stabilized and then be flown back home, with a nurse, to be treated here in America at a bankrupting price point. For any traveler who is either coming to America, or who’s flight touches down in America en route to somewhere else, get the absolute maximum medical coverage. The cost of medical care here in America will bankrupt you.

I have filled this post with affiliate links (see disclosure) to Allianz Insurance – that’s who I use every time I travel overseas. I suggest you shop around and compare policies to see if someone else has a better fit for you.

Most travel insurance policies need to be purchased at least 14 days prior to travel in order to be effective as of day one of your trip. I recommend that travelers buy travel insurance the same day as they put down their deposit or purchase their airline tickets – whichever comes first. If anything medical happens to you tomorrow you will forfeit the money paid out so far.

 


This article just arrived in my inbox courtesy of Smarter Travel

 

Best and Worst airports in america

I have certain airports that I will not use, no matter what. My most loathed airport in the USA is Chicago O’Hare, largely because in all my years of flying I have never had a successful connection through O’Hare. On the occasions I have had to fly through O’Hare something always goes wrong, whether its delayed flights, planes not arriving, missed connections. Its a nightmare! (If you want to really screw up travel plans, fly United through O’Hare. They are the devil’s duo). No matter how many hundred dollars I can save by flying to Europe through O’Hare I never ever do it.

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I do disagree with Smarter Travel about some of the items on this list though. I think LAX Tom Bradley terminal is just fantastic. I am thrilled to route any flight through there,and often I start my international flights at LAX. One thing I always notice when using the Bradley terminal is that the workers smile at you. They are polite and friendly. A couple of years ago I flew from Rome to JFK, where everyone was rude and angry, shouting at travelers and being as difficult as humanly possible. Four days later I flew to Australia from LAX and thought I was in a different country! None of the TSA agents or airport workers were hostile, everyone had a smile, and I watched them being friendly and helpful to everyone.

Phoenix Sky Harbor should also be on the good list. Apart from the fact that its my home airport (I live in Phoenix), Sky Harbor is an incredibly efficient, easy to navigate, very well appointed, thoroughly modern airport. I always consider myself very lucky to have this as my home airport.

I do use Philly frequently too, routing out to Italy via Philadelphia, but unfortunately I usually get routed home via JFK. In my experience Philadelphia has a pretty modern facility, is functional, and I’ve never had a problem.

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If you do have travel on the horizon, especially international travel, check out this article before you book your flights. With international travel you often have options on which airports you want to route through, and having a little knowledge ahead of booking your flights can be incredibly helpful, and save you a massive headache. If you do have to use one of the bad airports when flying internationally make sure you have travel insurance to cover you for lost luggage and missed international connections. I use Allianz insurance for all my international travel.

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The 10 Worst Airports In America

By Tim Winship for Smarter Travel

As any road warrior worth his or her rollaboard will tell you, the country’s airports are no friendlier than its skies. Ancient terminal buildings, threadbare carpets, stinky restrooms, poorly designed crowd control, sparse seating, unappetizing food concessions… the list of travelers’ gripes is a long one.

And that’s on top of last year’s results, which showed the average traveler-satisfaction score rising from 725 in 2015 (on a 1,000-point scale) to 731. Even that modest uptick was encouraging, given the 5 percent increase in airport traffic and the sky-high wait times at security checkpoints earlier that year.


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The study scored airports on a combination of six factors: terminal facilities, airport accessibility, security check, baggage claim, check-in/baggage check, and terminal shopping. Based on those criteria, the 10 highest-rated airports were as follows:

  1. Sacramento International Airport
  2. Indianapolis International Airport
  3. Anchorage International Airport
  4. Jacksonville International Airport
  5. Palm Beach International Airport
  6. John Wayne Airport
  7. Tampa International Airport
  8. Southwest Florida International Airport
  9. Raleigh-Durham International Airport
  10. Dallas Love Field

And the bottom 10 (worst first):

  1. LaGuardia Airport
  2. Newark Liberty International Airport
  3. Los Angeles International Airport
  4. Philadelphia International Airport
  5. Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
  6. Chicago O’Hare International Airport
  7. Honolulu International Airport
  8. JFK International Airport
  9. Boston Logan International Airport
  10. Lambert-St. Louis International Airport

It’s worth noting that the three lowest-ranked airports are currently undergoing massive construction projects, which can’t help but impede traffic and generally make navigating those airports a frustrating and time-consuming experience.

Of course, when the projects are completed, flying to or from those airports—and indeed most airports—will still be frustrating and time-consuming, just less so.

 

What are your best and worst airports? Tell me in the comment section below!


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