Twitter | @joannachiu

Woman's Story About An Airplane Creep Is Drawing Attention To A Serious Problem

Traveling alone is a big step in a person's life, because it's not an easy thing to do, to navigate a strange place on your own. Sadly, it's even harder for women, because they all too often find themselves the targets of the creeps of the world.

The only saving grace is the knowledge that even though you might think you're alone, that's not always the case. When you need help, sometimes a good stranger will step up to help.

Often, it's because they've been there before, too.

Joanna Chiu wants everyone to know what young women traveling alone can face after witnessing a distressing event on a recent flight.

Twitter | @joannachiu

With a row all to herself, she was trying to sleep on her flight, but couldn't help overhearing something in the row behind her, and she decided to share the experience on Twitter just so the world could pay attention.

"A man appearing in his late thirties was obviously delighted to be seated next to a teenager separated from the rest of her family," she wrote.


"He started off by asking about her career plans and laughed when she said she wanted to be CEO and kept giving her ridiculous advice. She was friendly and he seemed to take that as a welcome cue to get very familiar and started teasing her and kept saying that he wanted to take her out to eat, which she was ignoring."

After hearing things escalate, Joanna decided she wasn't going to sleep so she could keep an ear open in case the situation got worse.

"It did, and as soon as he asked for a 'dirty' photo while leaning close to her I turned around and rage-whispered exactly what I thought of that and he didn’t say anything back and went off to use the washroom."

It turns out Joanna wasn't the only one listening in, either.

"Another woman seated behind him was listening and monitoring too and while the man was gone she let the teen know that she had the right to change seats and that she was just behind her if she needed any help."

Meanwhile, Joanna went to alert the flight attendants to the situation. "They checked other witness accounts and the head of the flight service (a woman) asked the man to move. He resisted then started swearing at me and asked to talk to the boss and the head flight attendant said 'I'm the boss, this is really serious and we could land the plane.'"

The man did move seats and the flight attendants checked in with the teen and wrote up a report.

Joanna thought the flight attendants "handled the situation well as far as I could tell," and she thought the other adult women on the flight did so as well without embarrassing the teen.

However, she also noticed that no male passengers picked up on the situation. "All adults need to be on guard and know there are things we can do to intervene even when a crime hadn’t technically been committed yet," Joanna wrote. "Men need to figure out how to 'spot creeps' in their vicinity as well and men can help too to prevent harassment or assault."

Joanna said that she thinks women are more adept at spotting creeps "because we used to be teenage girls too."

She also shared a couple of similar incidents she had experienced while traveling alone. "The first time I traveled without my parents the man next to me spoke with me most of the flight, which made me feel adult and important, and he said things like I must be flirting because I was touching the zipper on my jacket. To his credit he stopped and later looked ashamed," she wrote. The second time, a man "kissed me without my consent. I was too shocked to say anything."

When the flight reached its destination, Joanna noticed that security was waiting for the man "and he looked like he was sweating bullets."

Twitter | @joannachiu

And Joanna, who caught the man's name and company he worked for, said she'd be sending a private note to his employer.

The flight attendants gave Joanna and another woman a card to thank them for looking out for the girl.

"It's so disturbing there are predatory people out there who act like they have no idea what they're doing is wrong," Joanna summed up.


"I’m sure the young woman he targeted will be CEO someday or some other position of influence. She was in the middle of studying when he started harassing her."

Joanna also shared a resource with some handy tips for bystanders who want to help but aren't sure what to do. It all helps!