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Offer Of Sex, Drugs In Unfriendly Skies Prompts Lawsuit

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Jul 13, 2010 6:00PM

We've had our share of surly airplane seat mates as well as the fun, friendly type. But this beats any experience we've had by an airline mile. An area man has sued Southwest Airlines claiming that on a 2008 Chicago-to-Orlando flight, attendants failed to help out his then-14-year-old son who was offered drugs and sexual advances by his seat mate, described as an "older female passenger." For most teenage boys, getting hit on by an older woman to join the mile-high club would be a hormone-fueled dream come true (even if it is, you know, illegal). But not for this one. From the Tribune:

The boy, who was 14 at the time, asked flight attendants to switch his seat multiple times but "was emphatically told no," the lawsuit said.

"This was a little boy who was flying alone who was really, you know, in the care and custody of that airline," the family's attorney, Jeffrey Deutschman, said in a telephone interview. "They failed to protect him. They allowed an individual to get intoxicated on that flight. That person was harassing my client sexually as well as trying to give him drugs. He was a very scared little boy."

Deutschman said the teen went to the bathroom four times just to get away from his neighbor and was so distraught about the flight that he refused to fly back home to Chicago alone. Instead, his father flew to Orlando to accompany his son on the return trip. Southwest hasn't commented on the personal injury lawsuit, in which the family is seeking $50,000, or on the flight attendants' behavior which Deutschman criticized by making a bit of a head-scratching comparison given the context: "I do not understand how an airline today, in this post-9-11 world would permit a passenger to be abusive to a small child."