The bad news continues for Malaysia Airlines. An Australian passenger revealed that an airline steward allegedly groped her by putting his hand down her pants during a flight to France. In an interview with Australian media, Laura Bushney, a native of Perth, said the steward then pleaded with her not to report the incident.
The 26-year old Bushney told Australia’s Channel Seven that three hours into her Kuala Lumpur-Paris flight she was experiencing some anxiety, and at that point a male flight attendant began touching her and taking advantage of her vulnerability due to her fear of flying, she said. He reportedly sat beside her and began massaging her legs, before eventually putting his hands down her pants.
“I just keep saying why didn’t I scream, why didn’t I shout? Why didn’t I stop it?” Bushney said in her interview. “When I was in the moment I couldn’t. I felt so scared, so petrified.”
According to flight records and several accounts, the flight was only half-full, with the nearest person sitting six seats away on the other side of the plane. Bushney did manage to capture some of the alleged assault on her phone, which she played for Channel Seven, including a conversation with the steward attempting to apologize and claiming his “intentions were good.”
“You’ve got a wife at home and you’re putting your hands down my pants. Why would you do that?” Bushney can also be heard saying in the recording. Earlier this month the airline did disclose in a statement that a crew member had been detained in France over charges of sexual assault on Aug. 4. The statement vowed to give French authorities necessary cooperation in their investigation, saying that “the safety, comfort and well-being of our passengers is always our highest priority.”
Malaysia Airlines has been under public scrutiny after flight MH370, a Beijing-bound flight departing from Kuala Lumpur with 12 crew members and 227 passengers, mysteriously disappeared in early March. Most recently, flight MH17, a Kuala Lumpur-bound flight departing from Amsterdam, was shot down by what appeared to be pro-Russian separatists when the aircraft flew over a disputed area of Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines was criticized for allowing flights over an active war zone along the Ukraine-Russia border, despite the fact other commercial airlines had also taken the same flight path and that there were no flight restrictions over the area.