United defends handling passenger’s complaint of sexual misconduct on flight

United defends handling passenger’s complaint of sexual misconduct on flight

A United Airlines spokesperson is defending flight attendants’ handling of an alleged incident of sexual misconduct on a flight, saying they followed protocol in addressing the situation after a passenger claimed they joked about the incident.

Genevieve Pascolla, a woman on a July 4 United Airlines flight from London's Heathrow Airport to Chicago, claimed that flight attendants made jokes after she reported that a male passenger next to her was masturbating, according to BuzzFeed News.

Pascolla wrote in an Instagram post that she and another woman sitting next to her were given new seats after she reported the man’s conduct to flight attendants. She also posted video of the man’s alleged action.

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"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 in the Instagram post.

She also claimed 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."

United Airlines spokeswoman Maddie King told BuzzFeed News that the airline has “a protocol to ensure our customers’ safety because it is our top priority” when such incidents occur. She said that "inappropriate and offensive conduct like this" is extremely rare.

"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," King said.

She added that United compensated Pascolla "as a goodwill gesture" and called her for a "wellness check” the day after the incident.

Pascolla said she received a voucher for half of the cost of her ticket after she tweeted about the incident. She said that United apologized for an “uncomfortable situation” in response to an original complaint she filed with the airline.