Woman paid ‘hush money’ after gross mid-air act
A WOMAN on a United Airlines flight claims the man next to her masturbated for "hours" and the airline didn't report it to the police.
Mikaela Dixon, 21, was travelling with her boyfriend from Orange County, California to Chicago on August 11 when she noticed the man inappropriately touching himself, Fox News reported.
"My bf was asleep in the window seat, I'm in the middle, and the man is in the aisle. I had no idea what to do, I couldn't get up bc [sic] I didn't want to go anywhere near him," she tweeted about the incident that gave her the "worst panic attack of [her] life".
Ms Dixon went on to say she couldn't alert the attendant without the man finding out, so she had to wait until he left his seat.
"I sat there shaking until he got up to go to the bathroom as we landed," she wrote.
After being alerted of the incident, a United flight attendant moved Ms Dixon to another row and reportedly told her the airline had contacted local police.
When the man "bolted" to get off the plane, Ms Dixon claims he was detained and escorted into the airport.
When she inquired about what would happen to him, Ms Dixon said the airline refused to tell her and instead gave her $US75 ($A103) of "hush money".
Ms Dixon later learned the passenger had been released and when she called the Chicago Police Department, they told her they hadn't been alerted to the incident.
Officer Michael Carroll told BuzzFeed News that they received an emergency call from a citizen, not the airline, and that the man in question had already left when an officer arrived at the scene.
"They were desperately trying to keep it internal," Ms Dixon told BuzzFeed.
"Basically United lied about everything, let the man go after a few questions, and refused to involve law enforcement until I called the cops myself and forced them to file a report w [sic] the FBI," she tweeted.
A spokesman for United told Fox News they were "investigating the matter to learn more about what happened".
"The safety and wellbeing 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 and the aircraft was met by our security personnel.
"Although United Airlines, as a company, cannot press charges on our customers' behalf, we will provide as much assistance as possible to law enforcement authorities should they investigate this matter further," the airline spokesman said.
This isn't the first time a passenger has claimed they've witnessed inappropriate behaviour on a flight. In May, a woman said the man sitting next to her on a Southwest flight from Las Vegas to Philadelphia masturbated during the duration of the trip and she had to tweet the airline to alert them of the situation.
After reporting the incident, the woman said the airline offered a dinner voucher. A spokesman for Southwest said at the time they were still investigating the matter, though the woman said they never contacted her directly.