Staying on par with the digital age, many airlines are adopting new tech systems that enable a range of entertainment for passengers. But just like with much of the socially connected tech down on the ground, these systems require monitoring.
24 year old Jessica Van Meir was on a business trip this weekend heading from London to Washington when she started getting unsettling messages on Virgin Atlantic’s in-flight system.
The crude messages came from a bunch of young men sitting behind her. It appears the men noticed Van Meir when she got up to use the restroom, and the messages started coming in when she returned to her seat.
The men who singled out Van Meir wrote comments such as “welcome to hell” and another referred to her as a “tidy babe”.
Messing with the wrong person
In a pleasant twist of events, Van Meir happened to be a paralegal who specializes in sexual harassment litigation. She replied to the comments with, “I work for a law firm that specializes in online sexual harassment. Enjoy being reported to virgin.”
After reporting the incident with the flight crew, attendants confronted the men right away and they stopped their inappropriate behaviour.
“It’s on a regular basis that women are catcalled,” said Van Meir. “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 traveling on my own just trying to enjoy my flight peacefully and not be harassed by anyone.”
A man claiming to be a rugby coach for the band of ill-mannered young men approached Van Meir after the event and said he was sorry for the group’s behaviour.
“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,” stated a Virgin Atlantic spokesperson. “We’re grateful to our cabin crew who supported our customer following this incident and would like to apologize for the distress caused.”
Virgin also said they’ll be going over the in-flight entertainment systems to ensure such incidents don’t occur again, and apparently seat-to-seat messaging is being eliminated throughout the airline.