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A Woman Says United Flight Attendants Made Jokes After A Man Masturbated Next To Her On A Flight

"I understand you can't control the situation, but you can control how you handle it," the woman told BuzzFeed News.

Posted on July 19, 2018, at 6:37 p.m. ET

Genevieve Pascolla

A woman on a United Airlines flight from London's Heathrow Airport to Chicago says flight attendants made jokes after a man seated next to her began masturbating.

"On this flight the man next to me started masturbating," Genevieve Pascolla, a 26-year-old photographer from Chicago, wrote on an Instagram post that included video allegedly showing the masturbation occurring under a blanket on the June 4 flight.

Pascolla said she woke up the woman seated next to her and then alerted flight attendants of the man's actions. They were given new seats, but then Pascolla says the flight attendants began making jokes after she told them how she had a similar experience on public transportation.

"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,'" Pascolla wrote.

Pascolla also alleged that the man was "allowed to finish, with a child sitting closely by."

"They were excusing his disgusting behavior and making jokes," Pascolla told BuzzFeed News. "I understand you can't control the situation, but you can control how you handle it."

Maddie King, a United Airlines spokesperson, told BuzzFeed News in a statement that the "inappropriate and offensive conduct like this" is exceedingly rare on their aircraft, "but we have a protocol to ensure our customers’ safety because it is our top priority."

"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," the spokesperson said, adding that they gave Pascolla "compensation as a goodwill gesture" and called her the same day she arrived for a "wellness check."

After landing, Pascolla said a "security guard" asked her if she wanted an apology from the man.

"I immediately rejected the request," Pascolla wrote.

BuzzFeed News reached out to airport police for more information.

Pascolla said she received half of her ticket refunded in the form of a voucher after she posted her experience on Twitter, not after two complaints she filed soon after the flight.

In response to that original complaint, before the partial refund was issued, United sent her an email, apologizing for an "uncomfortable situation."


The alleged incident occurred on a June 4 flight. A previous version of this post misstated the date.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.