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A woman tweeted about being sexually harassed by fellow passengers on a Virgin Atlantic flight.
While aboard the flight on Saturday, Jessica Van Meir said she began receiving unsolicited messages from other passengers through the airlines’ inflight seat-to-seat system.
One passenger, nine rows away from her, told her that she was a “tidy babe.”
Another message read, “Welcome to hell” after another passenger, calling himself “big d*ck swinger,” added a winking emoji.
Van Meir, a legal analyst who works on cases of sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination, expressed her outrage on Twitter and asked if other women had similar experiences.
“I was in 55C. The flight attendants were helpful and dealt with it swiftly. Have any other women had this happen to them?” Van Meir asked.
Yesterday I was on a @VirginAtlantic flight, and I unexpectedly received these sexually harassing messages on my screen (I was in 55C).— Jessica Van Meir (@jessicavanmeir) October 6, 2019
The flight attendants were helpful & dealt with it swiftly.
Have any other women had this happen to them?#metoo #cyberharassment @SCFGallagher pic.twitter.com/7tbVkRhpQp
Although other women did not come forward with similar complaints, Van Meir received an outpouring of tweets expressing concern over the airline’s inflight system.
Good grief, is there any communication platform at all in this world that won’t eventually become a means to sexually harass others? Why don’t people just fucking act right, or at least try not to be total garbage human beings? https://t.co/aJv0j03z2u— el (@VenusAmaris) October 7, 2019
The system needs re thinking, or just removing. I couldn’t imagine being sat on a flight for any length of time and having this happen. Especially given how most flights, long haul, give out booze as well— Jason Dexter (@iamjasondexter) October 7, 2019
“The system needs rethinking, or just removing. I couldn’t imagine being sat on a flight for any length of time and having this happen. Especially given how most flights, long haul, give out booze as well, ” Jason Dexter tweeted.
Virgin’s seat-to-seat chat system was created as a means to allow passengers to communicate on board, often while playing games on the screen in front of them. Another of the system’s built-in features is that it can be used to purchase food and beverages inflight, creating a more seamless flight experience.
In her tweet, Van Meir also took the time to offer some expert advice to the airline.
“Virgin Atlantic, you should probably take measures to prevent this from happening by flagging specific language and putting in place a reporting function on the chat to report abusive users,” Van Meir wrote.
Virgin Atlantic has since sent Van Meir both a tweet and a follow-up email, addressing the incident.
“We were extremely concerned to hear of the incident reported on-board one of our flights and are investigating as a matter of urgency. We want all of our customers to have the best possible experience when they fly with us, and have zero tolerance for any disruptive or inappropriate behaviour. We’re grateful to our cabin crew who supported our customer following this incident and would like to apologise for the distress caused. We are now reviewing our entertainment systems to ensure this does not happen again,” the airline tweeted.
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.— Jessica Van Meir (@jessicavanmeir) October 7, 2019
A seat chat is a fun function & I’m not against it, but it can easily be abused. pic.twitter.com/s5kD8Qe0UY
We were extremely concerned to hear of the incident reported on-board one of our flights and are investigating as a matter of urgency. We want all of our customers to have the best possible experience when they fly with us, and have zero tolerance for any disruptive (1/2)— Virgin Atlantic (@VirginAtlantic) October 7, 2019
The Daily Dot has reached out to Jessica Van Meir.
Tiffanie Drayton is a geek culture and lifestyle reporter whose work covers everything from gender and race to anime and Xbox. Her work has appeared in Complex, Salon, Marie Claire, Playboy, and elsewhere.