Citing company policy, Nicky Howse — a petty officer in the Royal Navy — was allegedly ordered by a security guard and airline staff members to either cover up her military uniform or change out of it and into pajamas before boarding an aircraft operated by Virgin Atlantic Airways at London Heathrow Airport for a flight to Los Angeles.
As a result of changing into a sleep suit for the duration of the flight, Howse reportedly felt humiliated, ashamed, distressed, insulted and enraged that this incident even occurred in the first place — and it is not the policy of Virgin Atlantic Airways that military personnel must not travel while in uniform.
During her deployment in the United States, Howse traveled to the United Kingdom to attend the funeral of her grandfather and supposedly experienced no problems when wearing her uniform on that flight.
Some FlyerTalk members are outraged over the report of the incident, with one FlyerTalk member reporting that Richard Branson — the founder and chairman of Virgin Group — apologized via twitter with regard to the incident. The discussion evolves into several directions — one of them touching upon a topic similar to an article posted at The Gate on March 1, 2013 regarding whether or not military personnel should receive special treatment from airlines while traveling in uniform.
I have stated for the record that I have not taken any sides in the debate about special treatment for military personnel traveling while in uniform, and that I am definitely not passionate either way about this issue. Regardless of the debate of whether or not it is necessary or permitted to wear a military uniform while traveling, no person serving their country deserves to feel ashamed or humiliated about wearing their uniform. If it is indeed not permitted, there are certainly better ways to communicate that information to the soldier — privately instead of in front of passengers, as a start…