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Sexual harassment or groping on a plane doesn’t happen only to women

I was struck by Elliott Hester’s article on sexual assault/groping on flights (Fly Guy, “When Harassment or Assault Happens Midair,” Feb. 4), particularly by the omission of the fact that sexual assault/groping can happen to men too, as it did to me.

​On a flight to Los Angeles, my girlfriend was in the window seat and I was in the middle one. An 80-year-old woman, who had downed two double gin and tonics on a layover, was in the aisle seat. (We found out this information because she told us.)

At first, it seemed as though she might have some cognitive issues, but it turned out that she was just drunk. The flight attendants served her two more gin and tonics.

The woman finally “fell asleep,” at which point her hand drifted to my inner thigh, making its way toward my crotch. At first, I didn’t believe it and nudged my girlfriend, who threw the woman’s hand off my thigh and called the flight attendant.

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We explained the situation, while the woman was saying that she was 80 and that I should “respect my elders.”

My girlfriend and I went to the back of the plane to discuss it with the flight attendants. I was told I should “feel flattered” that I had been groped.

We stood in the back for a few minutes, and I was offered a bottle of water while I collected myself. (Wow, free water!) My girlfriend suggested switching seats, but we were told the flight was full.

We returned to our seats, but this time my girlfriend sat in the middle and I was in the window seat.

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The cockpit wasn’t notified; when we landed the cops weren’t at the gate and I wasn’t on CNN. Yet I was groped on a flight. If a woman were groped by an older man, there would have been an uproar. As it was, I wasn’t taken seriously.

Your coverage of sexual assault and groping on flights continues the notion that only men grope women on flights.

Please do better.

Name and city withheld

Politeness pays off

J. Keith Van Straaten’s “Money Matters” article “Earning Degree in Savings” (Feb. 4) hit the nail on the head with his comments about politeness when asking for upgrades or help.

I was chatting with the gate agent when a businessman came to the desk, slapped down his ticket and said, “I want an upgrade to first class.”

She checked her monitor and said, “Sir, we are fully booked in first class.” He stomped off, and I continued to chat with her.

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Boarding began, and she waved me over to her desk and said, “Would you like to ride in first class?”

Why, yes I would. Done

On another occasion, I arrived at my hotel during a major convention in New Orleans and was told I did not have a reservation. The hotel was sold out.

I was there with my team, and they laughed, knowing I was out of luck.

I said to the desk agent, “I know you are an experienced professional and right now you don’t have a room for me, but soon you will find one. I will be in the bar over there, and you can come and get me.” My teammates were still laughing.

She later let me know that she had a room for me. “Ma’am,” I said, “I knew you would and thank you.”

Niceness begets niceness.

Ed Lamphier

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Irvine

travel@latimes.com

@latimestravel


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