Virgin reviewing seat-to-seat text messaging after woman is sexually harassed by group of men on flight

Virgin is reviewing its inflight seat messaging service after a woman received sexually inappropriate messages during a transatlantic flight.

Jessica Van Meir, a lawyer, posted images of chat messages she received during a Virgin Atlantic flight to Washington DC.

The messages, which were sent direct to her inflight entertainment system, include one passenger calling her a “tidy babe”.

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Other messages from “dirty Mike” read: “Welcome to hell” and “currently you are now in the danger zone”.

The perpetrators’ seat numbers are clearly visible.

Ms Van Meir, who was sitting in seat 55C, responded: “I work for a law firm that specialises in online sexual harassment. Enjoy being reported to Virgin.”

The airline confirmed to The Independent that it would review its entertainment systems to “ensure this doesn’t happen again”.

Seat messaging has been a feature onboard Virgin aircraft since 2000, but is being gradually phased out.

It will not be available on Virgin’s latest fleet, which includes the Airbus A350. Future aircraft will also no longer have seat messaging functionality.

Ms Van Meir tweeted about the incident upon landing. “The flight attendants were helpful and dealt with it swiftly,” she said, tagging #metoo and #cyberharassment. 

She followed up: “Thanks to everyone who has expressed sympathy & concern. After the flight attendants spoke with the guys, I walked through the aisle and took a picture of them. Afterwards, a young guy came up to me and said he heard about the chat between me & the guys and wanted to apologise..

“..on their behalf, they were on a rugby trip and 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. What matters to me is not going after these guys, but making sure they understand why it was harmful.”

“We were extremely concerned to hear of the incident reported onboard one of our flights and are investigating as a matter of urgency,” said a Virgin spokesperson. 

“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. 

“We’re grateful to our cabin crew who supported our customer following this incident and would like to apologise for the distress caused.”

Cyber flashing, the act of receiving sexually explicit images or messages, has been illegal in Scotland since 2010, but not in England or Wales.

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