Woman claims cabin crew made 'jokes' after a man was caught masturbating next to her

Woman claims cabin crew made 'jokes' after a man was caught masturbating next to her

In the wake of the recent #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, the discussion surrounding issues of sexual assault and inappropriate behaviour has become noticeably more open than it ever has been before. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that people have got better at dealing with such issues when they arise, and indeed - in some cases - sexual offences are still considered to be no more than a joke.

Genevieve Pascolla, a 26-year-old photographer from Chicago, experienced this first-hand while on a flight home from London last month.

"On June 4th I was on a #unitedairlines flight from Heathrow to Chicago," Pascolla wrote in an Instagram post.

"On this flight the man next to me started masturbating I woke up and saw him touching himself under a blanket. 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."

This incident alone was upsetting enough, but what followed somehow made the situation even worse. Unbelievably, instead of comforting Pascolla and the other woman, the flight attendants laughed about it.

"[The cabin crew] 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," she said, adding that "he was allowed to finish, with a child sitting closely by."

At the time, Pascolla was apparently only offered one form of consolation: an apology from the man.

"After exiting the plane first to talk to security the security guard asked me if I’d like an apology from the offender," she explained. "I immediately rejected the request."

Not content with the course of (in)action taken by United, the photographer decided to email a formal complaint to the airline. What she received by way of response, however, was just as lacklustre as the cabin crew's original response.

"Unfortunately, we are unable to honor your request for a refund of your travel from London to Chicago or offer goodwill compensation," the reply stated.

"Again, I apologize for the uncomfortable situation you experienced.

"I appreciate that you chose United for your travel. We hope your next trip with us will be a more positive experience."

"It took @unitedairlines a month an a half to respond to my complaint," Pascolla wrote. "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."

The 26-year-old is making sure to get her story out there as a warning to others who might be considering flying with United.

"Women and men out there pick an airline that cares about your safety. #unitedairlines referring to being assaulted on one of your flight as an 'uncomfortable experience' is a bit of an understatement. (See email) your lack of action is disgusting."

United has yet to comment further on the matter, but it is obvious that they should have taken more immediate action in this situation.