Google engineer says wife was racially abused and physically assaulted on Southwest Airlines flight
PHOENIX, ARIZONA: A Southwest Airlines passenger was accused of physically and verbally assaulting a woman who was sitting behind him on a flight from Orlando to Phoenix on Saturday morning, September 24.
Google software engineer Faraaz Sareshwala, from California, took to social media to detail an encounter in which a man sitting in front of his wife, Saarah, allegedly "violently pushed his seat back" multiple times in an attempt to physically harm her, all the while making "racial slurs (and) misogynistic comments." Faraaz said his wife was sleeping with her head on the tray area when she woke up by the alleged outburst, which was apparently witnessed by her seatmates. She was initially unaware of what happened and got up to use the restroom, but was informed of the incident upon returning to her seat.
According to Faraaz, the man, who hasn't been identified, told the seatmates to "f**k off" and said, "that b***h got what was coming for her." He then went on to make comments to a woman sitting next to him that he should continue hitting the seat so he can spill Saarah's drink.
This morning, my wife left Orlando, Florida aboard @SouthwestAir flight 1630 (MCO to PHX).— Faraaz Sareshwala (@fsareshwala) September 25, 2022
She sat behind this man. She had been attending the Grace Hopper Conference all week and was resting her head on her tray table, trying to sleep a bit.
Let me tell you what happened. pic.twitter.com/fsfN4OmFaf
The alleged victim and her seatmates struggled to get help from the flight crew, and so began passing notes back and forth to communicate about the issue. Taking to Twitter, Faraaz shared what he described as a note from one particular witness, identified only as Gabi, who recorded her account of events.
Here's one of the pages that Gabi [last name redacted], one of Saarah's seatmates, wrote down: pic.twitter.com/oBfsCkQlOZ— Faraaz Sareshwala (@fsareshwala) September 25, 2022
The software engineer railed against Southwest, saying one flight attendant did offer to change his wife's seat but they never confronted the perp. He said another attendant offered to call the authorities only after one of Saarah's seatmates spoke up.
Only when the mother brought up (to another flight attendant) that this was actually physical assault, they offered to call the police. Saarah and her seatmates began to communicate via notes on a napkin. pic.twitter.com/JsmzpJ4p6v— Faraaz Sareshwala (@fsareshwala) September 25, 2022
"After being made aware of a situation on a Southwest flight yesterday, the Crew requested law enforcement meet the aircraft upon arrival," Southwest said in a statement to Insider. "Southwest Airlines maintains zero-tolerance for any type of alleged harassment or assault on our Customers or Employees," it added.
The Phoenix Police Department interviewed everyone involved once the plane landed, but then turned the case over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation because the incident occurred in the air. "We don't have an FBI case number but the Phoenix police said that if the FBI thinks there is enough evidence to press charges they will reach back out," Faraaz noted. He said it was possible that race and gender were factors that led to the alleged incident. "We still don't know why he became so violent. However, I do know that my wife has never felt so violated, voiceless, and powerless," he wrote, adding, "He used racial slurs and misogynistic comments so I guess it was that she was Indian and a woman (read: not white and not a man)."
The Phoenix police took all the details and sent the information to the FBI. We don't have an FBI case number but the Phoenix police said that if the FBI thinks there is enough evidence to press charges they will reach back out.— Faraaz Sareshwala (@fsareshwala) September 25, 2022
It's worth noting that the Federal Aviation Administration has a zero-tolerance policy toward unruly or dangerous conduct on flights. A man was recently arrested and banned from American Airlines after punching a flight attendant in the back of the head.