American Airlines Says Man Fondling Himself Inflight Is Worth 5,000 Bonus Miles

A woman who flew American’s flight 2555 from Orlando to Dallas – Fort Worth on Tuesday was in seat 15A. The middle seat beside her was empty, and she says the man 15C “violated her.” She reported the incident to flight attendants, filmed it, and nothing was done.

Row 15 is standard economy on the Airbus A321. The coach passenger “started inappropriately touching himself mid-flight but was allowed to walk away without anyone questioning him.”

The woman said she didn’t think anything of it when the man seated beside her told her about his trip to visit his daughter and grandson — or when he offered her drinks, which she declined.

…Soon after takeoff, she felt movement from the man in 15C. …“He was looking directly at me and, like, his body kind of pivoted and (was) facing towards me,” she said. “I can see that his fingers were up his shorts, and they were raised all the way up to his groin area. And he was just, like, fondling himself.”

She escaped from her seat and told the flight attendants. They moved her to the back. She said she asked the attendants for help.

The incident appears not to have been reported, and the man left the aircraft without being questioned.

The woman followed up with American Airlines, whose response was to offer her 5,000 “but said she just wanted accountability.”

As a courtesy for your experience on the flight, we’re going to reward you 5,000 miles, which I thought was such a slap in the face.

5,000 mile compensation for a passenger beside you fondling himself and then doing nothing about it is, I suppose, what you get when customer service agents are told not to expect cost of living increases, say that the “automated system responding to customers is faulty” and they have the “lowest wages in the industry.”

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. If they’re not going to do anything about one of their own employees producing child pornography from one of their customers in flight, then what surprises you about them only offering her 5K miles? Actually SHE got more than that little girl who’s private parts were filmed (because even responding to her at all was more than that family got).

  2. I’d either consult with an attorney or go to social media. That behavior, both by the FA and the airline overall, is completely unacceptable.

    What AA should have done is have the man arrested for indecent exposure, refunded the flight for anyone nearby, and given out 100,000 miles for anyone affected. Does American truly want to be seen as condoning this behavior?

  3. Seriously Gary? I haven’t seen a cost of living increase for several years yet I appreciate that’s because the company isn’t doing well enough. Yet I value my job and I still do it. It’s clear that no one really wants to work for AA, if there weren’t seniority levels in place I’d bet that most if the employees would go job hunting

  4. Interesting deflection, Matt…and how is that the passenger’s fault? AA keeps getting lower and lower in their capacity to be of service to their customers. I live in DFW and have only flown with them in the last couple of years because their hub in at my back door. I’m beginning to rethink my position.

  5. Maybe he just had an itch?????
    But perhaps not. I can’t say the lady should feel “violated” since he didn’t invade her space or make improper comments or suggestions, but offended is certainly fair. I would have thought a loud “Please stop scratching your balls like that!” might have put an end to it, but, ya never know.
    However, this lady did not feel that the crew properly responded to her concerns, although they did move her. 5,000 points versus an attorney? Well I know which horse wins that race and sadly the airlines only have themselves to blame. Love to hear the FA’s take on all this though… Sometimes a different perspective adds a lot of clarity.

    PS: For those who don’t know the difference, indecent exposure involves pulling it out and waving it around for all to see. I don’t see that alleged here.

  6. 5,000 miles * .017 = $85 value. I looked up MCO-DFW on a random Tuesday and the price for the flight in economy OW is $96. They essentially refunded her money but in AA cryptocurrency. I’m offended by a lot of basic people so I think it strikes me as a bit Pollyanna-ish and prudish to complain here. I would rather have someone do something inappropriate out of view than have someone’s awful child play a game with volume on for an early AM flight. Get a grip ppl.

  7. Passenger: “The man next to me is fondling himself!”
    AA FA: “Is he interested in signing up for a credit card? We have a very special offer…”

  8. For all the men saying it isn’t a big deal, I’m wondering how you would feel if some guy was staring at you while masturbating.

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