Alaska Airlines adds new employee training to fight sexual harassment in the air

An Alaska Airlines jet takes off at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in March 2015. The chief executive of the Seattle-based carrier says the airline is adding training to combat sexual harassment.
(Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)

Months after a couple of sexual harassment incidents took place on board Alaska Airlines planes, the Seattle-based carrier has announced new employee training to address the problem.

In an online post to Alaska Airlines employees, Chief Executive Brad Tilden said the carrier is adding training to help protect flight attendants and passengers from being the victims of assault or harassment.

“To be clear, sexual harassment and assault have absolutely no place in our workplace, on board our flights, or any place,” he said in the post.


Often such reported incidents involve unwanted touching of flight attendants by passengers or allegations one passenger harassed another.

For flight attendants, Tilden said the new training will include“a sexual assault scenario” created by RAINN, a national anti-sexual violence organization, and a Seattle-area sexual-assault resource center.

He also said, “We’re developing onboard resources to clarify how guests can support one another and our crews.”

Tilden didn’t say in his post what prompted the new training, but in January the airline banned a San Diego man from flying on the carrier following allegations that he harassed a flight attendant by touching her buttocks during an evening flight from Portland, Ore., to San Diego.

In November, former Facebook executive Randi Zuckerberg posted on Facebook a description of sexual harassment against her by a passenger on an Alaska flight, and said flight attendants offered to move her — not the alleged harasser. She later updated the post to thank Alaska executives for taking her complaints seriously.

In early December, Sara Nelsen, president of the Assn. of Flight Attendants-CWA, which represents 42,000 flight attendants from 19 airlines, wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Post in which she said flight attendants, already long objectified, remain “ongoing victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault.”

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