A woman on a Virgin Atlantic flight was disgusted to discover passengers sending her lewd messages via the plane’s inflight entertainment system.
Jessica Van Meir was onboard an eight-hour flight from London to Washington DC when she returned from the bathroom to find a series of inappropriate messages popping up on her screen.
Like many other airlines, Virgin Atlantic’s in-flight entertainment system allows passengers to send messages to people in other seats, which, the passengers behind Van Meir used to harass her.
“55c you tidy babe”, one passenger with the screen name ‘smacks baccy tin’ said, which was followed by another passenger whose screen name was ‘big d**k swinger’ sending two winking emojis and “welcome to hell” from a passenger calling themself ‘dirty mike’.
But what the three harassers didn’t take into account was that Van Meir is a legal analyst who works on cases of sexual assault, harassment and discrimination.
“I work for a law firm that specialises in online sexual harassment. Enjoy being reported to Virgin,” Van Meir said in response.
Van Meir told CNN she reported the incident to flight attendants who addressed the issue immediately, asking her permission to speak with the men. She said the harassment stopped after that but she was left thinking about it for the duration of the flight.
“It’s on a regular basis that women are catcalled,” Van Meir told CNN.
“It’s exhausting and it makes you feel unsafe.
“I was also appalled and disappointed that someone would be so disrespectful and entitled as to send me messages on a flight when I’m travelling on my own just trying to enjoy my flight peacefully and not be harassed by anyone.”
Yesterday I was on a @VirginAtlantic flight, and I unexpectedly received these sexually harassing messages on my screen (I was in 55C).
The flight attendants were helpful & dealt with it swiftly.
— Jessica Van Meir (@jessicavanmeir) October 6, 2019
Van Meir said on Twitter she was approached by a “young guy” who said the men behind her were on a rugby trip and identified himself as “one of the leaders”.
“He said the guys had been drinking & he’d talk to them, was sorry and hoped we could leave it at that. What matters to me is not going after these guys, but making sure they understand why it was harmful,” she said.
She also posted an email from a Virgin Atlantic employee apologising for her experience and assuring her they would be “investigating this as a matter of urgency”.
“We have zero tolerance for this kind of behaviour and while I am glad to hear the crew were helpful and dealt with this swiftly, I sincerely apologise for any upset caused,” the email read.
“I would like to reassure you we are reviewing our systems to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
I received this email today from @VirginAtlantic. I appreciate their following up on it & hope they’ll take measures to prevent this & other forms of sexual harassment from happening to others.
A seat chat is a fun function & I’m not against it, but it can easily be abused. pic.twitter.com/s5kD8Qe0UY
— Jessica Van Meir (@jessicavanmeir) October 7, 2019
Travel Weekly has approached Virgin Atlantic for comment.