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Woman sues airline, alleges assault by drunk passenger on Phoenix flight

(American Airlines Photo)

PHOENIX — A woman has sued American Airlines saying she was sexually assaulted during a flight from Phoenix to New York, citing failure to protect her and overserving the alleged attacker.

Aubrey Lane, 32, said in court documents filed Wednesday that a drunk male passenger followed her into an airplane bathroom on June 16, 2017, and sexually assaulted her.

Lane was suing for unspecified damages to be determined by a jury.

Flight 1280 left Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport shortly before 10 p.m. for John F. Kennedy International Airport.

The federal lawsuit filed in the state of New York said the man appeared to have already been drinking before he boarded the plane.

He proceeded to order four vodkas and two beers during the flight. Another passenger sitting nearby said Lane and the man had been talking but as “the conversation got louder, more erratic, and more uncomfortable” the witness alerted the cabin crew.

Court papers included a statement from a passenger who said that Lane had told her or him the man had forced his way into the bathroom and sexually assaulted her about two hours into the flight.

“Knowing the clear dangers of intoxication and the sexual assault threats especially on red eye flights, American Airlines offered no protection to Aubrey Lane,” the lawsuit said.

The airline said in a statement to KTAR News 92.3 FM:

We will thoroughly review Ms. Lane’s lawsuit once we receive it. We want all of our customers to have a safe, positive travel experience with us and we are deeply troubled by any allegation of misconduct onboard our aircraft or at any of our facilities. If our crews discover or are told about any alleged illegal misconduct that may occur on the aircraft, law enforcement is contacted and will meet the aircraft upon arrival. In all cases of misconduct between two passengers, we will immediately separate them, and request law enforcement meet the aircraft, which is our standard protocol. It is up to law enforcement to determine what, if any criminal activity, took place.”

Lane had been drinking, too, according to a the other passenger’s statement.

The Daily Mail of London reported the airline offered to settle the suit for $5,000.

Lane and her husband, Jesse, who live in Colorado, accused the carrier of continuing to serve someone who was violating the alcohol policy laid out in thee International Air Transport Association’s 2015 Guidance on Unruly Passenger Prevention and Management:

“Airlines should authorize their ground staff and crewmembers to deny boarding to passengers where there are reasonable grounds to believe that their faculties are impaired by alcohol to an extent that will present a hazard to the aircraft, to persons on board (crew or passengers) or to the passengers themselves.”

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