Disturbing Trend: Cases of Men Groping Female Passengers on Airplanes Are Skyrocketing

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

Instances in which men sexually abuse young women on airplanes have been skyrocketing according to FBI data. The number of cases dropped during the COVID-19 pandemic, but now it has risen higher than it was before the coronavirus.


The reports address cases in which men grope or inappropriately touch girls sitting next to them on airplanes:

Reports of men groping teenage girls and young women sitting next to them on airplanes are rising, federal numbers show.

So far this year, the FBI has investigated 62 cases of airborne sexual misconduct as of Aug. 3, passing pre-pandemic counts.

According to national figures shared with The Washington Times, the FBI investigated 27 sexual misconduct cases aboard aircraft in 2018 and 65 in 2019.

After that tally fell to 34 incidents in 2020 amid COVID-19 flight restrictions, it shot up to 81 in 2021 and 90 last year as travelers returned to the skies.

“When comparing 2019 to 2021, we have seen a 25% increase in investigations, even as the rate of passengers has not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels,” an FBI spokeswoman said in an email.

The FBI said most of the unwanted groping occurred while victims slumbered, with 67% involving alcohol or drugs and 20% involving underage targets.

Sexually abusing passengers is a felony “punishable by up to two years in prison and a $250,000 fine.”

Vince Callahan, a Florida-based psychologist, said sexual predators have become bolder over the past five to ten years. “Video games and screen time have taken things we used to think were bad and made them seem acceptable. We have this mental idea that ‘whatever I want to do is OK,’ without regard to other people,” he explained.


There have been several recent news reports chronicling these crimes. In July, federal authorities arrested a 69-year-old North Carolina man for placing his hand on a teenager’s thigh and then moving it under her skirt.

A doctor from Georgia was arrested for grabbing a female passenger’s crotch. He was on his way to Maine to propose to his girlfriend, ironically enough.

In another case, a man was sentenced in 2022 for groping a female passenger who was sitting next to him during a flight to Atlanta:

On March 25, 2021, [Scott Russell] Granden boarded a flight traveling from St. Louis, Missouri, to Atlanta. He sat in a middle seat beside the victim, R.A.K, an emergency room nurse. R.A.K. was exhausted from a hectic day and, shortly after takeoff, tried to rest. She awoke to discover that Granden’s hand was on her thigh. She removed his hand and went back to sleep. But she woke up moments later because Granden had again placed his hand on her thigh, moved his hand towards her groin area, and, at one point, tried to kiss her. R.A.K. warned Granden to stop touching her. But he slapped R.A.K. on the buttocks when she stood up to let him pass her to go to the restroom.

A flight attendant responded to R.A.K.’s complaint about these incidents and moved Granden to a different seat. The airline company notified the Atlanta Police Department (APD) about the assault and arrested Granden when the plane arrived in Atlanta.   APD officers obtained statements from R.A.K. and another passenger on the flight. Granden called the officers a series of racist and homophobic slurs during this time.


Stories like this illustrate how important it is to make sure your female loved ones are safe when flying. While these instances account for a very small percentage of what happens on flights, the fact that they are becoming more common is disturbing.

Furthermore, it might not be easy to figure out why this increase has occurred over the past year. While some might blame video games and too much time spent online, there must also be other factors motivating predators to engage in this behavior.



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