A woman travelling on a United Airlines flight from London to Chicago has shared her distress at the airline’s alleged response after she reported to cabin crew that the man seated next to her during the flight was masturbating.
Genevieve Pascolla, who shared her experience on social media, apparently awoke mid-flight to discover her neighbour touching himself under a blanket.
Disturbed, Pascolla arose from her seat to alert cabin crew, prompting the woman next to her to do the same.
While United Airlines relocated the two women elsewhere on the flight, Pascolla said that staff made ‘jokes’ to her about the incident, asking “what perfume are you wearing”. Minimising the man's behaviour, stewards also said: “he’s had a bit of wine.”
She also claimed that the man was “allowed to finish” with a child sitting nearby.
Pascolla submitted a complaint to United Airlines, which she said they took a month and a half to respond to.
In an email sent to Pascolla, which she screenshotted and shared to her Instagram profile, United Airlines apologised for "the uncomfortable situation you experienced."
In her post, Pascolla said: “I am appalled at the lack of action taken in this situation in which as a woman, I was terrified. This man is clearly capable of much more.
“#unitedairlines referring to being assaulted on one of your flights as an “uncomfortable experience” is a bit of an understatement. Your lack of action is disgusting.”
Maddie King, a United Airlines spokesperson, told BuzzFeed news in a statement that “the inappropriate and offensive conduct like this” is exceedingly rare on their aircraft, “but we have a protocol to ensure our customers’ safety because it is our top priority.”
"That’s why, in this case, our customers were promptly moved to different seats in a different section of the plane and law enforcement officials were summoned in advance to meet the perpetrator when the plane pulled into the gate," adding that they gave Pascolla "compensation as a goodwill gesture" and called her the same day she arrived for a "wellness check."
Despite initially refusing to to honour her request for a refund for the flight or offer goodwill compensation, Pascolla told BuzzFeed that half of her ticket cost was eventually refunded in the form of a voucher after she shared her experience on social media.
A spokesperson for United Airlines told The Independent: "Inappropriate and offensive conduct like this on our aircraft is exceedingly rare, but we have a protocol to ensure our customers’ safety because it is our top priority. That’s why, in this case, our customers were promptly moved to different seats in a different section of the plane and law enforcement officials were summoned in advance to meet the perpetrator when the plane pulled into the gate."