Yesterday, on a Southwest Airlines flight from Orlando to Phoenix, a passenger was allegedly injured by another passenger in a disturbing incident that was detailed in a series of tweets by her husband.

Saarah Sareshwala, a software engineer and mother from California, was returning from a women in computing conference when she was allegedly physically injured by a passenger in the seat in front of her. Here’s what happened according to her husband Faraaz Sareshwala, a software engineer at Google and instructor at UC Berkeley, who fired off a series of tweets to bring attention to the incident.

Faraaz Sareshwala goes on to describe exactly what his wife says happened in a series of tweets. Below are his tweets:

This man violently pushed his seat back in an attempt to hurt @saarahfaraaz while her head was there. After coming to, she initially thought it was an accident; someone falling down in their own seat after returning from the bathroom or something.

Thinking she might have bumped the man’s chair while sleeping, @saarahfaraaz went to the bathroom to check her injuries. Sitting next to her were a mother and daughter who were awake when this all occurred. They asked for ice from the crew for Saarah and confronted the man.

The man responded by making the blah blah motion with his hands and facetiously said “f— off, f— off!” He told the daughter to “stay in [her] f—— lane, b—-.” He then said about my wife that “the f—— b—- got what was coming for her.”

While Saarah was in the bathroom, flight attendants began serving drinks. The man and his wife discussed using their seat in this way again so that Saarah’s drink would spill on her.

When @saarahfaraaz returned from the bathroom, her seatmates explained their interaction with the man and told Saarah to inform the flight crew. When Saarah did, all the crew initially offered was to switch seats with not even a reprimand for the aggressor (wtf @SouthwestAir?).

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.

Here’s one of the pages that Gabi [last name redacted], one of Saarah’s seatmates, wrote down:

@saarahfaraaz chose not to change seats because she felt safer with her current seatmates who witnessed the ordeal. Throughout the rest of the flight, this man kept spewing racial slurs and misogynistic venom at Saarah. He kept pushing his seat back in an attempt to hurt Saarah.

As passengers started deplaning, the man, knowing the police had been called, suddenly became very chatty with others around him, complimenting potential witnesses. Police escorted Saarah to a safe area to get her story and barred the aggressor and his wife from leaving.

The Phoenix police took everyone’s stories (the man, his wife, Saarah’s, the mother and daughter sitting next to Saarah, etc). They said that because the incident occurred above the gulf of Mexico, it was out of their jurisdiction and the @FBI would have to get involved instead.

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.

@saarahfaraaz never even exchanged any words with this man before or after the incident. Even if she did bump his seat by accident, it didn’t warrant using racial slurs, misogynistic comments, or a violent, repeated, physical assault.

Saarah is back home safe now but even after many, many hours, her head still hurts with a sharp pain where she was hit. We’re thinking of going to the doctor if it doesn’t get better.

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.

I’m so glad Gabi and her mother were there to help Saarah through this by getting ice for her injuries and offering witness testimony.

It’s all so ironic. Saarah had just finished up a week at Grace Hopper Conference #GHC22 #ghc2022, a tech event that also discusses women’s empowerment and eliminating violence against women.

As she boards her flight, she’s immediately reminded that she’s back in reality.

Without any other interaction, this man only had how Saarah looked to go off of and I have no idea what about her looks made him so angry. 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).

It makes me wonder what would happen if the roles were reversed: what if a brown man attacked a white woman this way. Would it just be allowed to blow over?”

He also followed up with a series of tweets thanking people and a warning not to try and identify the person.

“I just want to say thank you to all of you who have offered your support publicly and privately. I showed Saarah the outpouring of love as well. It means the world.

Sadly, some of you also shared your own similar stories. It makes me so sad reading what you all have gone through

I apologize for being a bit quiet on this today. We haven’t really been checking Twitter much. Honestly, I had no idea my tweet yesterday would blow up like this. We’re just regular people and our twitter accounts are meant to share what we’re up to with friends and family.

After Saarah told me what happened, I spent the day as an angry husband, brooding. I tweeted that night out of that anger.

Saarah was in quite a bit of shock yesterday. Now that I’ve calmed down a bit, my main priority today was to make sure Saarah was okay.

We went to the doctor today and we will be following up with the local and federal authorities for this case. We’ve received a ton of great advice in DMs and will be going through it to determine our next steps.

Thank you so much for all the kind words and guidance!

I don’t know how much more I’ll be writing updates in. I might add a few notes in the future if there’s something publicly worthwhile to mention.

Thank you all again! From the bottom of our hearts!

Forgot to mention in the previous thread but I want to call attention to it: There are many people who sent me potential identifications of who this person is with names, phone numbers, addresses, etc.

We appreciate your efforts but please realize that this is a dangerous game.

There have been many instances in the past where people have been incorrectly identified and have been subsequently harassed or doxxed. I’d certainly not want that for anyone.

Even if correct, let’s go through the proper channels and handle this through our legal system.

Saarah’s seatmate chimed in as well when she tweeted: “As the witness and individual who spoke up, words cannot describe how vile this man was. An act so intentionally harmful followed with hateful slurs is a lifetime of this behavior being condoned and encouraged. I can only hope this matter gets addressed properly.”

Obviously, there are two sides to every story but according to Saarah’s story, as detailed by her husband, she did nothing wrong and there’s no excuse on the planet for the other passenger’s behavior. In a situation like this, my advice would have been to take video of the incident or, if she didn’t feel comfortable doing that herself, to have a seatmate do it. I would also have advised Saarah to move seats and extract herself from a volatile situation, either by moving closer to the front of the plane or to the back, next to a flight attendant. And finally, probably don’t fly Southwest.

That last part is kind of a joke but … not really. Southwest had a high-profile incident when one of their pilots announced over the PA “Let’s Go Brandon” last year and it kind of became known as the MAGA airline.

To my point, Twitter user: @Steamboatrocks: tweeted: “Fly Delta. A lady sitting in front of us was escorted off the plane by a Red Coat after not getting her way to change seats on a full flight. She gave the flight attendant the finger. The Captain said “We have standards” and apologized for delay.”

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2 Comments On "'Racist and Misogynistic' Incident Aboard Southwest Flight Detailed By Victim's Husband"
  1. Marlin Yoder|

    I fly Southwest a lot and have witnessed many great positive moments. I don’t think Southwest had more episodes like this than any other (I can think a few pretty horrible United moments) but I digress.
    I also don’t think it’s political as you seen to suggest.

  2. Keith Sketchley|

    So it was not SWA’s fault, nor racist/mysogynist (as there is no evidence of that).

    Not quality reporting.

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