- Rick Wilking/Reuters
- Virgin launched an in-flight messaging system in 2013, allowing passengers to chat with each other.
- A cheeky video of Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson introducing the new system explained how to “get lucky at 35,000 feet.”
- Now, a woman claims to have received sexually harassing messages from other passengers during a Virgin Atlantic flight with this system, per the Daily Mail.
- A Virgin representative told Insider that seat-to-seat messaging is already being phased out across the Virgin fleet.
When Virgin first launched its in-flight messaging system in 2013, it was touted by many as an “in-flight flirting system.”
Virgin didn’t do much to dissuade this notion. In fact, it posted a video featuring airline founder Sir Richard Branson himself explaining how to “get lucky at 35,000 feet.”
“I’m not a betting man, but I say your chance of deplaning with a plus-one are at least 50%,” Branson says in the video introducing the new entertainment system, which features a chat function that allows passengers to send messages directly to other passengers’ screens, and even order them drinks or snacks.
Now, a woman claims to have received sexually harassing messages from other passengers during a Virgin Atlantic flight, reports the Daily Mail.
Jessica Van Meir, who works for a UK-based law firm, shared images of the messages she received on Twitter after a flight on Saturday. The messages show one user calling her a “tidy babe,” while one user calling themselves “big d— swinger” sent winking face emojis.
Yesterday I was on a @VirginAtlantic flight, and I unexpectedly received these sexually harassing messages on my screen (I was in 55C).
The flight attendants were helpful & dealt with it swiftly.
— Jessica Van Meir (@jessicavanmeir) October 6, 2019
Van Meir simply replied “I work for a law firm that specializes in online sexual harassment. Enjoy being reported to Virgin.” She said that the flight attendants “were helpful and dealt with it swiftly,” and shared a response from Virgin that says they are investigating the matter and reviewing their systems.
When asked about the in-flight messaging system and Van Meir’s account, a Virgin representative told Insider the company was “reviewing” the entertainment systems.
“We were extremely concerned to hear of the incident reported on-board one of our flights and are investigating as a matter of urgency,” the Virgin representative told Insider. “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. We are now reviewing our entertainment systems to ensure this does not happen again.”
The representative added that seat-to-seat messaging is already being phased out across the Virgin fleet and that new planes do not have this functionality.
The representative also claimed that this was the first such incident they are aware of.
Insider reached out to Van Meir for comment and had not heard back at publication.