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Veterans to Virgin Australia: “You Can Shove Your Priority Boarding and Onboard Greeting”

Veterans to Virgin Australia: “You Can Shove Your Priority Boarding and Onboard Greeting”
Jeff Edwards

Virgin Australia officials are walking back an announcement that the airline would offer priority boarding and an inflight recognition for those who have served in the military. This, after some veterans groups objected to being singled out for attention. The carrier said it would rework its plans after consulting with current and former service members.

Virgin Australia officials were caught off guard after announcing new policies intended to honor military veterans. The plan to offer priority boarding and a welcome message for current and former service members was widely panned by veterans groups and the airline was forced to reconsider the move entirely.

“We are very mindful of the response that our announcement about recognizing people who have served in defense has had today,” the airline said in a mea culpa posted to Twitter on Sunday.

“It was a gesture genuinely done to pay respects to those who have served our country. Over the coming months, we will consult with community groups and our own team members who have served in defense to determine the best way forward. If this process determines that public acknowledgement of their service through optional priority boarding or any announcement is not appropriate, then we will certainly be respectful of that.”

Many of the world’s largest airlines, including the largest, American Airlines, offer special recognitions for current service members as well as armed forces veterans, but this fact may have contributed to Virgin Australia’s predicament. Some veterans who objected to the perks for service members policy found the whole thing to be just a little too American.

“It’s a very American thing to do,” well-known Australian military expert Mike Carlton told the New York Times this week. “We’re not quite as loud or noisy as that. Australians are a little more subtle. It’s just not in our nature to do stuff like that. Almost any veteran I can think of would be hideously embarrassed by being singled out like that.”

Seeming to back Carton’s assertion, a number of veterans took to social media to oppose Virgin’s decision as an attempt by the airline to benefit from an appeal to U.S-styled military patriotism. Twitter users called Virgin’s gesture “US-style jingoistic patriotism’” and “too American” with one opponent going as far as to call the policy “faux American bollocks.” and another suggesting that Virgin Atlantic, should “shove your priority boarding and onboard greeting.”

Other opponents of the seemingly altruistic policy, say it is merely a thinly veiled appeal to politics. The airline’s new policy was initially presented as part of an effort led by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. media empire.

Following the furor over Virgin Australia’s plans to honor veterans, a Qantas spokesperson released a hasty statement announcing that the airline has no plans to follow suit. “We’re conscious that we carry a lot of exceptional people every day, including veterans, police, paramedics, nurses, firefighters and others and so we find it difficult to single out a particular group as part of the boarding process,” Qantas officials told reporters.

View Comments (7)


  1. edgewood49

    November 8, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    ( Vietnam USAF) As a veteran, with some combat related disability VA taking good care of me for years I did not particularly take advantage of offers but with all the recent hostilities that our troops have gone through and finally getting the recognition, long over due I might add I do appreciate it and proud to have served our country. If the Aussie Vet’s have an issue then thats up to them but here in America we honor our vet’s our way.

    To all my fellow vet’s Happy Veteran’s Day.

  2. AlastairGordon

    November 8, 2018 at 5:27 pm

    “Faux American bollocks”. I couldn’t have put it better. Good on the Aussies!

  3. AlwaysFlyStar

    November 10, 2018 at 6:15 am

    I mean, it just seems insulting to everybody else who spend their lives serving their communities. I mean, doctors, nurses, policemen, firemen, teachers, etc. often give so much of themselves trying to make the world a better place and singling out one over another seems to be saying that nobody else is worth appreciating.

  4. Craig


    November 12, 2018 at 12:24 am

    The typical cringe-worthy American “thank you for your service” would be extremely offensive and embarrassing to an Australian services member.

  5. oktoberfest

    November 13, 2018 at 9:06 am

    Aussie vets have a problem with being singled out because they actually haven’t defended anything. Just wearing a uniform isn’t the same as being a combat vet. The US is proud of their vets because they actually are fighting for freedom.


    November 18, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    Murdoch is an idiot, once again. Folded “News of the World”…….had a great social media site called “My Space”….ruined that one too. And in fact, had a head start against Facebook, but blew that opportunity. Ruined the L.A. Dodgers under his ownership…..and only in recent years, have become competitive.

  7. robomo

    November 27, 2018 at 12:39 pm

    People in the amred forces are just that, people. They just happen to be in the killing business. They are no more worthy of ‘special recognition’ than anyone else and the majority don’t want any special fuss made of them. I’ve been a civilian empoyee of the Army and the troops and officers are just as worried about finance, housing, relationships and career advancement as the rest of us, few exhibit any jingoistic tendencies. I never got any sense that any of them joined up to sacrifice themselves protecting us mere mortals or to “fight for freedom”. (Thinking of Americam freedon I read that Tom Arnold had a visit from the Secret Service just for being critical of the President – what next, ‘retraining camps’?).
    My local electrician is a great guy who does all sorts of minor jobs for the elderly for little or no charge. He’s just part of the community and I suggest he would be more worthy of ‘special recognition’ than the soldiers that roar through my town en route to a nearby training ground. Of course he does not see it that way, its just part of being a decent person.
    Virgin Australia got it wrong and to their credit were quick to realise it

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