A woman claims she was sexually assaulted by a fellow passenger in the air during a 10-hour flight to Europe.
Allison Dvaladze says she was flying in the aisle seat from Seattle to Amsterdam when the passenger sitting next her touched her multiple times.
“I suddenly felt a hand in my crotch, and without even thinking I swatted and yelled, ‘No!’” she told Inside Edition. “As I was starting to get away, he grabbed me again, I hit him again and then as I was going to leave, he went to block me and grab me as I was trying to get away out of the seat.”
The man allegedly touched her three times in total.
Dvaladze is not alone. The FBI says midair sexual assaults increased by 66 percent over the last three years, as many more are often unreported.
And it’s not always adult women, as in some reported cases, teenagers and even adolescent children have been victimized while in a plane.
Mackenzie Miller was just 13 years old when she was groped at 30,000 feet.
It happened on a flight from Dallas to her home in Portland.
The passenger seated next to her, Chad Camp, was arrested upon landing and later pleaded guilty to making an indecent sexual proposal to a minor and assault with intent to commit abusive sexual contact with a minor, according to reports.
“You see this stuff and you think it’s crazy and then it happens to you and it’s shocking,” Miller said.
Flight attendant and union president Sara Nelson says airlines are not doing enough to keep passengers and their children safe.
“In my 22 years as a flight attendant, I have never been trained on what to do if I encounter a sexual assault on the plane,” she told Inside Edition. “That has got to change.”
Dvaladze, who spoke with Inside Edition at Air Hollywood in Los Angeles, says the Delta flight attendants on her plane did not do enough to help her.
As for the alleged groper, he just got off the plane once it landed.
“He changed seats and he wasn’t in his original seat,” she said. “He walked off the plane. I don’t know where he went and we’ve never been able to figure out who he was.”
She says no report was ever filed after she complained to several crew members that she had been assaulted and no one interviewed the passenger or got his identification.
“Their response to me was, ‘We’re sorry for any inconvenience. It’s unfortunate when one person’s behavior affects another. Here’s 10,000 miles,'” she claimed. “They said we actually have no record of any incident on your flight so this matter is closed.”
So what can you do to protect yourself?
Experts say you should stay alert, and speak up. Also, try to book an aisle seat because sitting by the window can make you more vulnerable.
Should a woman find herself assaulted midair, Dvaladze said, “Absolutely find a crew on the flight that can help you. Let them know what happened, inform the pilot, inform the ground and make sure a report is filed.”