United Offers Passenger $75 After Airline Fails to Report Seatmate Masturbator to Police
Sexual assaults on planes are happening more and more often — or at least, are being reported more often to authorities — and airlines just can't seem to figure out the right way of handling these situations. The latest incident occurred when 21-year-old Mikaela Dixon found herself seated next to a man who allegedly masturbated "for hours" during a United Airlines flight on August 11 from Orange County (SNA) to Chicago (ORD).
"I had no idea what to do," Dixon said in a post on Twitter (you can read the entire thread here). According to SFGate, Dixon said "she couldn't get up from her seat because she 'didn't want to go anywhere near him' and feared calling an attendant because he would have 'heard me reporting him.'"
As the plane landed and the man got up from his aisle seat to use the restroom, Dixon was finally able to tell flight attendants about what the passenger had done — which the crew promised to report to police. Upon arrival at the gate, the man "bolted" off the plane, at which time a fellow passenger blocked him until United employees could detain him.
Dixon told Buzzfeed News that a United flight attendant informed her the authorities had been alerted and would "meet the man upon exiting the aircraft." As it turns out, the police did indeed receive a phone about the incident — but from another passenger, not a United employee. Buzzfeed reports that the flight crew and gate agent "had decided not to do so."
"Chicago police confirmed to Buzzfeed that they had received a 911 call from a citizen, but not United. When officers arrived at the scene, the man had already left," reports SFGate.
Instead, the victim reports that United's security team interviewed the man and then "sent him on his way."
The woman was later offered a $75 voucher from United, which she said in a tweet she considers "hush money." United issued a statement saying, "The safety and well-being of our customers is our top priority. Our customer was immediately moved to a different seat when the flight attendants were made aware of the issue. We are reviewing the matter to learn more about what happened."
Dixon reached out to the Chicago Police Department and later the FBI to file a report. "If United isn't gonna cooperate [with] police and take action, I will," she said.