An Australian woman has described her horror at being subjected to a "masturbating" passenger next to her on a flight from Brisbane to Sydney.

The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, told news.com.au that she complained to Tigerair about her treatment on the flight and says she is "upset and disappointed" by their reply.

Linda* claimed she boarded the flight in February and when she realised she had an entire row to herself, shuffled from the aisle to the window seat.

Just before take off, a man, who Linda described as "in his early 20s with a shaved back head and long ponytail at the top", sat in her original seat and started rubbing his genitalia.

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"He sat down, he had his sunglasses on, earphones in, smelled of alcohol, and the entire time, he was rubbing the extent of his genitalia," she told news.com.au.

"He did it the entire time, changing hands, rubbing, he was clenching his fist, he was holding his d**k and rubbing it back and forth.

"I kept looking thinking, 'is that actually happening'?"

After 10 minutes, feeling "extremely" uncomfortable, Linda says she worked up the courage to alert one of the flight attendants on board who claimed the man needed to go to the toilet.

Linda says she asked the flight attendant to move him to his original seat but replied that she would check on her later, which never happened.

"I was freaked out, it made me feel very uncomfortable, I've never been in that situation before. It sad that a guy can make a female feel so bad," she said. "He would never understand that situation, if a female was doing that to him, it's a different understanding."

After the man returned to his seat, he tried to get the woman's attention.

"He touched my arm, I was trying to look out the window, I had my earphones in, very much ignoring him," Linda said.

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He touched Linda's arm again and showed her a message he had written on his mobile: "I'm sorry about before if that made you feel uncomfortable."

Linda said she didn't respond, so the man touched her again, showed her his phone again, and a new message read: "I think you're really beautiful, do you have a boyfriend?"

Shocked, she tried to laugh it off thinking: "Now you're having a crack"?

Linda says she never saw the flight attendant again, and when she emailed a complaint to Tigerair after their flight, despite their "offer my sincere apology for any inconvenience caused", they completely ignored the masturbation claim and blamed her for not contacting the cabin crew.

"After reading through your feedback, I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere apology for any inconvenience caused as a result of this experience," a customer care team member responded. "This is truly not what we aspire to with our service delivery.

"I do understand that [sitting] next to the person who had a smelly odour caused you discomfort.

"I note that we cannot account for body odour or personal hygiene of fellow passengers however, cabin crew are more than happy to re-accommodate guest into a different seat when requested.

"Furthermore, it is recommended that if there is any issue on board, our Cabin Crew must have been approached for assistance so this will be resolved right there and then."

This response angered the woman, who has taken Tigerair to task for "failing to even address one of the most serious concerns I raised in my earlier complaint".

"The fact that somebody on your aircraft was visibly touching himself and making lewd and uncomfortable advances toward me and nobody did anything about it," Linda said in her complaint to Tigerair.

"I know Tiger cannot be responsible for all the actions of people on their service, but the staff are tasked with being a voice of authority when something like this happens; a duty of care they failed most spectacularly throughout this instance.

"I do not make these accusations lightly and, frankly feel some kind of embarrassment to have to press on the issue at all.

"It's really disappointing and quite frankly scary for people who speak up and voice such a serious complaint to have the flight attendant dismiss it and carrying on with the drinks service.

"Shame on you and your staff for totally dropping the ball throughout this incident. I'll be telling everyone I know what kind of service you're providing and sincerely hope this response sees some changes made to your operations when someone raises such a serious allegation."

Linda said at the time "she just wanted to get away" but felt she needed to make an official complaint.

"It's more how they handled it," she told news.com.au. "Whether he was doing what he was doing or not, I said I feel uncomfortable and he wasn't in his own seat. It could have been so easily fixed, I don't know why the flight attendant didn't even want to speak to him about sitting in his own seat.

"It would have been fine otherwise, I wouldn't have been stressed for the entire flight because this guy kept trying to get my attention."

In a statement, Tigerair told news.com.au: "The safety, welfare and comfort of our passengers is our top priority. Tigerair has a zero-tolerance policy for inappropriate behaviour of any kind and we are currently reviewing the incident as a matter of priority."

* Name has been changed