On a United Airlines aircraft from Newark (EWR) to London Heathrow, a 40-year-old man was detained on suspicion of raping a female passenger in the Business Class cabin (LHR).
The alleged major sexual assault occurred on January 30 during an overnight journey, but it was only recently discovered.
After the heartbroken victim submitted a report to flight attendants aboard the plane, the Metropolitan Police confirmed that a man was arrested on suspicion of rape.
United Airlines flight UA14 took off from Newark at 7:15 p.m. for a six-hour overnight travel to London. Just before 7 a.m., police officers boarded the Boeing 767 and arrested the suspect.
The victim didn’t know the man until soon before the flight, when they met in the United Business Class airport lounge and began drinking together, according to The Sun. According to sources, the two continued to drink and talk on the plane.
“The woman said she was raped by the passenger during the flight while others were asleep,” the anonymous source told
“She was distraught and reported it to cabin staff who radioed ahead to police, who were waiting as the plane came in to land.”
The individual was apprehended at Heathrow Police Station and swabbed for forensic evidence before being quizzed by expert police. He has since been released while the investigation continues.
The victim was transferred to a specialized sexual assault clinic, where the claimed crime’s intimate evidence was obtained. According to sources, forensic officers searched the ‘Polaris’ Business Class cabin where the incident reportedly occurred in detail.
Although reports of in-flight sexual assault are uncommon, they do occur. Victims are often hesitant to come out immediately after an incident for fear that flight attendants will not believe them or that local authorities in the destination country will not take the claim seriously.
The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA), which represents United’s crew members, has long advocated for better training and assistance for flight attendants dealing with such complaints.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said: “At 06:39hrs on Monday, 31 January police at Heathrow Airport were alerted to an incident on an inbound flight.”
“Officers met the aircraft on arrival and arrested a 40-year-old man on suspicion of rape. He has been released under investigation. The complainant, a 40-year-old woman, is being supported by specialist officers and enquiries are ongoing.”