While on a late flight, a married mother-of-one experienced a nightmare. When Aubrey Lane, 31, stood up to use the restroom on the flight from Phoenix to New York City in June, the man in the seat next to her followed her to the bathroom. And now Lane wants others to know how she was “raped by a drunk man sitting next to her on an American Airlines flight.”
The details are gruesome, and the story is horrific. It is disturbing to think that this could happen on a flight while there are flight attendants and hundreds of other people about. But it did, and Aubrey Lane wants you to know so you can be careful.
When Lane, who is from Colorado, got on the flight, she immediately noticed that the man next to her was drunk. And she was shocked to see that the flight attendants continued to serve him alcohol despite his condition.
Lane was on the flight to visit family in New York. But when the drunk man sat next to her, she felt strange. She could smell the alcohol on his breath.
“My first thought was this guy’s drunk. He was super chatty,” Lane said in an interview with the Dallas Morning News. “I’ve flown a lot. I’m used to people saying hello. This is the most anyone has sat down and started talking to me.”
A few hours into the flight, Lane stood to use the restroom. Little did she know but the man followed her and raped her in the bathroom.
Lane immediately reported the incident to flight attendants. They moved her to a seat at the back of the plane.
“I was feeling overwhelmed … all of a sudden. I was thrown in a middle seat, bawling. On top of being sad and hurt and scared, I was also embarrassed,” Lane said.
When the planed landed in New York, police escorted her to the hospital. They did not apprehend her rapist. And to this day, she does not know the name of the man who raped her in the airplane bathroom.
Because the incident occurred mid-flight, the FBI must investigate and prosecute. Agents interviewed her at the hospital, but they have failed to get anywhere.
Now she is coming to the public to seek support. And Paul Hudson, the president of Flyers Rights, a consumer advocacy group, is not surprised the FBI has failed her as they do not consider assaults to be a top priority.
“What we’re hearing from people is the U.S. Attorneys don’t want to prosecute [and] don’t have time for these things,’ Hudson said. ‘Often they are misdemeanors or are ‘he said, she said.’ That’s not what they do. They’re into terrorism and drug cases.”
Now Lane wants to sue American Airlines.
Lane’s attorneys agree that American Airlines was negligent for letting the drunk man board the plane and to continue serving him drinks.
American Airlines offered Lane a $5,000 payout, but she took that as an insult.
A.A. spokesman Ross Feinstein refused to comment on Lane’s case but issued the following statement:
“We want all of our customers to feel safe on our aircraft. We care deeply when we hear of these types of cases… our team offers investigative support as needed to federal, state and local law enforcement.”
Lane wants other women to know the danger.
“I’m coming out now because [American] hasn’t made it evident it wants to change this,” Lane said. “What’s going to stop this from happening again unless I make a big fuss about it?”