A woman named Jessica Van Meir tweeted about a horrifying experience this week after she was sexually harassed on a transatlantic flight from Washington DC to London. A group of men sent her the messages via the new inflight function that lets passenger communicate with each other through their entertainment systems.
Meir, a 24 year-old legal analyst who lives in London, was seven hours into the flight when a barrage of messages began popping up on her screen from other passengers in a line of seats a few rows down from her.
The messages came from passengers who'd named themselves "dirty mike", "smacks baccy tin" and "big dick swinger". Their seats were identifiable through the system, which Virgin Atlantic is currently phasing out on new aircraft. The idea is for groups or families sitting separately to communicate with each other from their seats, and users can select the seat of the passenger they wish to speak to.
The messages included comments like, "you tidy babe", "welcome to hell" and "you are currently in the danger zone", while the passenger who'd called himself big dick swinger sent a number of winking emojis.
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
After alerting a member of cabin crew to the messages, Meir was told that they would be spoken to. But Meir also decided to walk through the cabin to where the men were sitting and took a picture of them. Having done so, Meir said that a member a different member of their group came over to apologise for their behaviour.
"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," Meir said.
"What matters to me is not going after these guys, but making sure they understand why it was harmful."
The young woman has said that she felt "violated", but she appreciated how the flight attendants dealt with the situation. "[The men] made me feel I could not even travel on a flight alone without being harassed." She told Huffington Post UK.
She has since tweeted a picture of an email sent to her from Virgin Atlantic customer response team, saying, "I appreciate their following up on it & hope they’ll take measures to prevent this & other forms of sexual harassment from happening to others."
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
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