Woman Wakes Up On A Plane To Find The Man Across The Aisle Touching Her Thigh

FBI statistics show sexual harassment on planes is becoming more and more common.

Woman sleeping on plane Matej Kastelic / Shutterstock

Air travel is pretty much a baseline nightmare, and many women nowadays are reporting feeling increasingly unsafe around men. 

What do these two have to do with each other? For one woman on Reddit, the trends converged in a deeply disturbing way that left her sounding alarms for other air travelers.

The woman awoke to find another plane passenger touching her while she slept.

"Hi everyone, I wanted to share a really scary experience I had on a flight yesterday kind of in order to vent but also as a warning," the woman wrote in her Reddit post.


Sadly, though unsurprisingly, sexual harassment on flights is nothing new — passengers, flight crews, and even the FBI have been warning about an uptick in incidents for years now.

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But what's surprising about this woman's experience is the brazenness. 

She was on a long flight by herself from Singapore to Australia when it happened and was left "shocked, terrified, and caught off guard."

The passenger sat across the aisle from her and began staring at her immediately upon boarding.

She wrote that the man "zeroed in on me from the start" and spent most of the flight "turning around and staring at me" before escalating to reaching across the aisle and touching her calf.

He made "a comment about how I must hate turbulence since I’m bouncing my leg," she continued. "I should have said something there, to be honest, but I didn't, and I really regret it."


When the cabin lights turned off and she tried to fall asleep, the man became even bolder. 

Woman asleep on plane Milkovasa / Shutterstock

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"I felt a hand rest on my armrest and fingers move over to my thigh/lap area," she wrote. "I shot up, and he removed his arm. I was so [expletive] scared that I just started stuffing pillows and blankets between me and the aisle."


"I was contemplating saying something to the cabin crew at that point, but since he did it in the dark, I didn’t know if anyone else saw [or] would believe me," she continued, echoing the experiences of countless victims — 63% of whom don't report or talk about sexual assault or harassment when it happens to them. Fear of not being believed is a common reason victims give for staying quiet.

After texting with her boyfriend and sister, she finally reported the man to the flight crew. Thankfully, they "immediately jumped into action," leading her to a safe area to sit away from the man. "They … literally held my hand and brought me warm drinks to help me stop shaking and get the story out," she wrote.

Incidents of sexual harassment on flights are rapidly increasing, according to the FBI.

In 2023, the FBI reported that cases involving sexual misconduct on planes have been on the rise since 2018. That year, they investigated 27 cases. By 2022, that had tripled to 90 cases. The end of 2023 saw yet another rise — to 96 cases.

It's hard to know for sure what exactly is going on, but the rising tide of often violent misogynistic rhetoric in our culture, especially online, surely isn't helping. Though it's difficult to prove, studies have found a correlation between online and real-world harassment and violence.


The increases are not just happening on planes, either (or cruise ships, for that matter, another hotbed of harassment and assault cases). From the military to middle and high schools, case numbers have risen steadily over the past few years.

The FBI says that when it comes to planes, what happened to this woman is pretty much textbook. Perpetrators often "test the waters" first before making an attempt in earnest, often while victims are asleep.

They say victims should do precisely what this woman did — immediately tell flight crews and have them record the attacker's identity so they can be reported to authorities on the ground.


This woman's flight crew told her that "even the first hint of something weird is enough for them to take action." Thankfully, they took her seriously when she said something and stopped a situation that could have become so much worse.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice, and human interest topics.