Air travel is tough enough without your seatmates doing disgusting things. It’s always too hot (or too cold), there’s never enough room, and you’re usually stressed from the travel. And if you’re on United Airlines, there’s always the chance that they’ll shove a puppy into an overhead bin and kill it. So imagine Genevieve Pascolla’s horror when she woke up from a nap on her United Airlines flight from to find the guy in the seat next to her, blanket across lap, totally jerking off. Ewwwwww x a billion forever.
Pascolla was on her way from Heathrow Airport in London to Chicago, so other than jump out of the plane and fall to her almost certain death, her only recourse was to move seats to get away from the guy. Which is exactly what she did. But her trauma wasn’t over, because it turns out the flight attendants kept cracking jokes about the situation, which they found hilarious.
⚠️*Trigger Warning*⚠️ On June 4th I was on a #unitedairlines flight from Heathrow to Chicago. On this flight the man next to me started masturbating I woke up and saw him touching himself under a blanket (see attached video) I woke the woman next to me and got out of there to tell a flight attendant the attendants checked and confirmed that he was masturbating in public. Once I got up the woman next to me saw and she also got up. They gave us new seats. They then started making jokes about the situation asking “what perfume are you wearing” and excusing him saying “he’s had a bit of wine” no one stopped him. He was allowed to finish, with a child sitting closely by. After exiting the plane first to talk to security the security guard asked me if I’d like an apology from the offender I immediately rejected the request. It took @unitedairlines a month an a half to respond to my complaint. And I received this email today. 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. So women and men out there pick an airline that cares about your safety. #unitedairlines referring to being assaulted on one of your flight as a “uncomfortable experience” is a bit of an understatement. (See email) your lack of action is disgusting. @united #unitedairlines #metoo
Pascolla posted a two-part Instagram — the first picture is a copy of the (honestly unsatisfactory) reply she received from United’s customer service and the second is a quick video of the dude himself, in action (uuuggghhh no)(but yes).
In the caption, Pascolla wrote about how she woke up the woman next to her and told the flight attendant what was going on. The attendants took a gander and confirmed that, yep, he was masturbating in public.
So what did they do? Intervene? Um, not quite. They gave both Pascolla and her female seatmate new seats. That’s it. And in her words, this is what happened next:
They then started making jokes about the situation asking “what perfume are you wearing” and excusing him saying “he’s had a bit of wine” no one stopped him. He was allowed to finish, with a child sitting closely by. After exiting the plane first to talk to security the security guard asked me if I’d like an apology from the offender I immediately rejected the request.
Pascolla added that it took United Airlines’ customer service team a month and a half to respond to her written complaints. And when they did, they didn’t offer her a refund or even credit towards another flight. They simply apologized for the “uncomfortable situation” she experienced.
Speaking to BuzzFeed News, Pascolla said, “They were excusing his disgusting behavior and making jokes. I understand you can’t control the situation, but you can control how you handle it.”
After writing about her experience on Twitter, Pascolla did receive a refund for half her ticket in the form of a voucher, but the two complaints she had filed earlier, soon after the flight, got her nothing.
BuzzFeed News also got a statement from United Airlines spokesperson Maddie King, who said that “inappropriate and offensive conduct like this” is rare on flights, “but we have a protocol to ensure our customers’ safety because it is our top priority.” She continued, “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.” Ah, well at least they called the cops. No word on whether the man was arrested, though.
She also added that Pascolla did receive “compensation as a goodwill gesture” and a phone call as a “wellness check.”
So remember, when booking your next trip or vacation, you might not want to pick an airline that does nothing when your seatmate is masturbating in goddamn public. Just a thought.
h/t BuzzFeed News