Woman, 24, received sexually harassing messages on Virgin Atlantic's in-flight entertainment system

Tanya Edwards
Messages on Virgin Atlantic's in-flight system. (Photo: Twitter)

A woman said that a group of men sent her harassing messages in a very untraditional way.

Jessica Van Meir, 24, told CNN that shortly after takeoff on a flight from London to Washington, DC, she started receiving messages on Virgin Atlantic’s in-flight entertainment system — the screen on the back of the seat in front of her.

The airline’s in-flight entertainment system allows passengers to watch movies and TV, play games and send messages to people in other seats.

The unwanted messages seemed to be coming from a group of passengers sitting behind Van Meir, who was in seat 55C, whom she passed when she got up to use the restroom.

The first message called out her seat number specifically and called her a “tidy babe.”

Someone referring to themselves as “big d*** swinger” sent her a series of smiley faces.

Yet another wrote, “Welcome to hell.”

The messages are all attributed to the seat numbers and all appeared to be near each other.

She responded, “I work for a law firm that specializes in online sexual harassment. Enjoy being reported to virgin.”

The same seat that wrote “Welcome to hell,” said back, “Currently you are now in the danger zone.”

She took photos of the exchange and posted them to Twitter on Saturday, Oct. 5.

After getting the messages, she quickly reported the incident to flight attendants, who Van Meir said dealt with the issue right away. The crew asked her if they could speak with the men who sent the messages, and she agreed. The messages stopped afterwards.

Unfortunately, Van Meir said she couldn’t stop thinking about what happened.

“It’s on a regular basis that women are catcalled,” Van Meir told CNN. “It’s exhausting and it makes you feel unsafe.”

She continued, “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 traveling on my own just trying to enjoy my flight peacefully and not be harassed by anyone.”

On Twitter, Van Meir said that she took photos of the men after the flight attendants spoke with them, and that one of the men approached her and apologized, saying: “They were on a rugby trip & he was 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.”


She also added, importantly, that “what matters to me is not going after these guys, but making sure they understand why it was harmful.”

One person on Twitter replied to Van Meir, saying, “A bunch of guys were attracted to you, whats the problem?”


She shut him down with her reply: “‘Welcome to hell’ isn’t my idea of flirting.”


Yahoo Lifestyle reached out to Virgin Atlantic, and spokesperson Louise Gallagher provided the following statement.

“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 behavior. We’re grateful to our cabin crew who supported our customer following this incident and would like to apologize for the distress caused. We are now reviewing our entertainment systems to ensure this does not happen again.”

She also noted that seat-to-seat messaging is not on any of the new aircraft that are joining the fleet — and this will be the case for all future aircraft acquisitions.

The airline also tweeted directly to Van Meir: “We’re grateful to our cabin crew who supported our customer following this incident and would like to apologize for the distress caused. We are now reviewing our entertainment systems to ensure this does not happen again.”



Van Meir just hopes the airline will make sure it doesn’t happen again. She tweeted, “I hope they’ll take measures to prevent this and other forms of sexual harassment from happening to others.”

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