Virgin Atlantic Flies “Gay” Plane To Doha World Cup

Virgin Atlantic Flies “Gay” Plane To Doha World Cup

55

Virgin Atlantic sent a pretty clear message to Qatar today, with the aircraft it decided to operate to Doha.

Virgin Atlantic’s World Cup charter Airbus A350

In less than a week, the 2022 FIFA World Cup will be kicking off in Doha, Qatar. Obviously there’s a fair bit of controversy surrounding Qatar hosting the World Cup, given some of the country’s social policies and laws, not to mention a World Cup ambassador for the country recently referring to homosexuality as “damage in the mind.”

As noted by Paddle Your Own Kanoo, Virgin Atlantic flew England’s World Cup soccer team to Doha today on a charter flight. Specifically, a roughly three-year-old Airbus A350-1000 with the registration code G-VPRD operated this flight.

The plane flew from Birmingham (BHX) to Doha (DOH) in a flight time of 6hr16min, and will be returning to England almost immediately. It will be flying to Manchester (MAN) this evening, and then tomorrow the plane will reposition to London (LHR) — it would have flown there tonight, but it can’t make it in time for the curfew.

What’s interesting is the specific Airbus A350 that Virgin Atlantic chose for this flight, which surely isn’t a coincidence. Virgin Atlantic is known for its “Flying Icons,” which depict a person and a flag. They’re painted near the front of the aircraft, under the cockpit and near the nose. Historically the airline had “Flying Ladies,” but to be more inclusive, in 2019 the airline announced it would be more diverse with these. Each “Flying Icon” has a specific name and message.

The Virgin Atlantic Airbus A350 operating the charter to the World Cup is specifically the LGBTQ+ plane — it’s named “Rain Bow,” and features a man with rainbow shoes. Below is a close-up of the “Flying Icon” for this plane.

Virgin Atlantic’s “Rain Bow” Flying Icon

While Virgin Atlantic isn’t stating publicly that the aircraft choice here was intentional, the airline did issue the following statement:

“At Virgin Atlantic we believe that everyone can take on the world. Aircraft G-VPRD, also known as Rain Bow, which proudly displays our LGBTQ+ flying icon, will be flying the team to the tournament.”

The captain of England’s soccer team is expected to wear a “OneLove” rainbow wristband during the World Cup, in support of LGBTQ+ rights.

Virgin Atlantic isn’t the only airline taking a social stand

Virgin Atlantic isn’t the only airline sending a social message during this World Cup. Lufthansa just unveiled an Airbus A330 in a special World Cup livery, with the message “Diversity Wins.” The airline flew this plane from Frankfurt to Muscat, for Germany’s team to go to a soccer training camp there.

Unfortunately that’s not the plane that will actually be flying the team to Qatar, though.

Lufthansa’s “Diversity Wins” Airbus A330

Bottom line

It’s probably no coincidence that England’s soccer team flew to Doha, Qatar, on Virgin Atlantic LGBTQ+ Airbus A350. This was ultimately pretty subtle, since it’s only a fairly small picture underneath the cockpit that depicts this.

Kudos to Virgin Atlantic on this! Admittedly this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as Virgin Atlantic has long been a pretty progressive airline — for example, the airline even recently removed gendered uniform requirements for employees.

What do you make of Virgin Atlantic’s World Cup plane choice?

Conversations (55)
The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
Type your response here.

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Anyone can comment, and your email address will not be published. Register to save your unique username and earn special OMAAT reputation perks!

  1. Schar Gold

    Ben please for the love of sports, its FOOTBALL not "sOcCeR"

  2. Peter Guest

    They are still flying. A statement is if they said "no flights". Put other airlines on the spot.
    That's skin on the game, not this joke of a statement.

  3. Bowie Guest

    Its not quite as honourable of virgin as you might think. Cabin and flight crew on board were not given the uniform choice reflecting their gender identity that virgin offers on its other routes and made a huge fanfare out of only a few weeks ago. So while what they did was definitely a statement they didn't quite deliver on the message they were trying to get across to Qatar

    1. Chris Guest

      I think they'd prefer the crew not to be arrested.

    2. Joe Guest

      Culture and religion of the host country have no value, if human rights are not respected!

  4. Mark Guest

    If they really wanted to make a statement, cancel your flights to Doha. Wimps.

    1. Weymar Osborne Gold

      Virgin don't offer scheduled services to Doha.

  5. Cy Guest

    All these stands and comments are great, but why weren’t they happening 4 years ago in Russia or during any of the Olympics in China? Seems a bit racist to only care about human rights abuses by Arabs. Totally cool if Russians or Chinese (who we rely on to make money) do it.

  6. Michael_FFM Member

    Almost as useless as Lufthansa‘s virtue signaling move. It will change nothing in Qatar. But maybe it will score them some brownie points at the next wage negotiations with the FA‘s Union.

  7. The odds say.... Guest

    It could have been a coincidence...

  8. Stefan Guest

    Who cares? Airlines should stop the silly virtue signaling and focus on performance. Be on time, be safe, be comfortable and provide decent service.

    1. Include this please: Guest

      And don't charge such high cancellation and change fees!

  9. Hardik Guest

    Its good and all I respect the choice LGBT people make but stop promoting gay sh*t to my kids. I SURELY wont fly Virgin atlantic or any other airlines that promotes LGBT to our future generations especially my kids.

    1. John123 Guest

      I feel sad for your kids, not talking about it doesn't mean it doesnt exist. Growing up in a homophobic environment has consequences. What if they push a kid from their school to kill themselves? What if they realise they are gay and can't be open about it?

    2. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      First 10 words shows that you're full of shit. And poor kids, especially if one of them ends up being gay (ooooh, so scary, huh?).

    3. Gay Sh*t Guest

      Its good and all I respect the choice STRAIGHT people make but stop promoting straight sh*t to my kids.

      As most airline "promote" LGBTQ, guess you'll be walking

      BTW interesting choice of name HARDIK

  10. Dwondermeant Guest

    I’d love to support VA but their premium business class is mediocre and their availability worse than BA with copy cat outrageous extortionate fees and surcharges.Their food sucks too and their offerings in their lounges
    So for all those reasons no thanks
    Did I mention I have to call an agent in 2022 to book a partner award while holding for an agent that doesn’t care or isn’t interested typically or incapable of...

    I’d love to support VA but their premium business class is mediocre and their availability worse than BA with copy cat outrageous extortionate fees and surcharges.Their food sucks too and their offerings in their lounges
    So for all those reasons no thanks
    Did I mention I have to call an agent in 2022 to book a partner award while holding for an agent that doesn’t care or isn’t interested typically or incapable of finding it despite searching forever
    Otherwise Great airline lol
    So 5 stars for marketing and progressive brand inclusiveness perception
    2 stars for all the rest of the business failures
    Richard could do much better

    1. Icarus Guest

      Richard who ? Branson has nothing to do with them now, although his name is synonymous with the brand

  11. British Men.... Guest

    According to Churchill " Most of the British men prefer men instead of those Ghastly women".

  12. John Smith Guest

    No uniform choice for Virgin Atlantic crew on World Cup flight is on BBC news

  13. DaninMCI Guest

    Can we just play some soccer for crying out loud?

    1. TravelinWilly Diamond

      They *are* playing football (“soccer” as you call it).

      This is just a discussion, it’s not preventing games from being played.

      JFC, calm down, Mary.

  14. Hetch Guest

    This is nothing to be proud of. You must respect the culture and religion of the host country. Just because western countries are just recently decided to be OK with this issue, doesn't make it right or give them the moral high ground. Just last week, those same countries wellingly send their most high representatives to attend COP27 in a country under military coup for 10 years, that killed, imprisoned, tortured 1000's of innocent people...

    This is nothing to be proud of. You must respect the culture and religion of the host country. Just because western countries are just recently decided to be OK with this issue, doesn't make it right or give them the moral high ground. Just last week, those same countries wellingly send their most high representatives to attend COP27 in a country under military coup for 10 years, that killed, imprisoned, tortured 1000's of innocent people and still continuing to committ atrocities till today. Hypocracy and no standard. Disrespect to Arab and Muslim people's is impeded in the sychy and cultures of the west.

    1. Nicolas Guest

      Hate is not a culture.
      Killing and putting people in jail based on who they are is not a cultural difference like having diner at 5pm instead of 7pm.
      It is wrong.

    2. Chris Guest

      Respect the culture and religion?

      What about the gay and bi men and women in that culture and religion? Don't they deserve some respect?

  15. Tim Dunn Diamond

    Virgin Atlantic's "NO WAY AA/BA" signs in the 1990s was far more provocative.

  16. JH Guest

    Will they be taking such a "bold" stance against Iran executing 15,000 protestors?

    Or do they agree with the Ayatollahs that hijabs and headscarves are wonderful, amazing things?

    1. Runs Pretty Good for a Fat Guy Guest

      I'm not defending Iran, but the number of people currently sentenced to death for protesting is 1, not 15k

    2. JH Guest

      Will they stop at one? How about the 26 protesters, including 43 children and 25 women that have been killed by security forces, already?

      The 15,000 was a widely reported number which will hopefully turn out to be wrong but it's still barbaric.

    3. Stefan Guest

      That was fake news but hey, who cares about accuracy?

    4. To Clarify Guest

      For clarity's sake, Hijabs are mandated by God, the Ayatollahs are simply applying the restrictions and the penalties they believe are appropriate!

      I am curious as to why you think "hijabs and headscarfs" are terrible bad things?

  17. John Guest

    Slow news day?
    Makes me almost wish for the usual CC endorsements.

  18. LuisRPM Member

    So brave, so bold...

    This is a calculated risk, not to send a message to Qatar but to make another (useless and harmless) virtual signing to the western world.

    It is just hyprocrisy...

    1. BBK Diamond

      It reminds me when all the airlines did something similar in Russia and China.. Oh wait!.

  19. Barry Guest

    This is irresponsible on the part of Virgin. By flying this aircraft into a country knowing that such fuselage artwork may be viewed as both inflammatory and illegal in that country, they place their crew at risk. Hopefully the Qataris don't react accordingly but either way, Virgin shouldn't engage in virtue signaling at the risk of their employees.

    1. BradStPete Member

      Clearly you haven't experienced the hatred that many of us have...all our lives. WOW. So sad for you

    2. Barry Guest

      I have lived in the GCC for years and do know that one criticizes the local rules at their own risk. My comment has nothing to do with the merits of the position that VA wishes to support and I merely point to who may bear legal risk accordingly, without staying a moral judgment.

  20. Syd Guest

    thank god we have true leaders capable of such bold action.

  21. ScottyB Guest

    Where's the uproar for the THOUSANDS of migrants that died during world cup construction in Qatar? Oh, sorry, forgot that airlines wouldn't get awarded any virtue signaling points for that.

    1. James Guest

      There's a rather amusing irony in people needing to signal that they may have identified virtue-signalling behaviour.

      Virgin have a history of being progressive with having a more inclusive work force and getting rid of stuffy traditions that add nothing to on board service. They don't have a history of being involved with immigrant labour laws in Middle Eastern countries.

  22. Alonzo Diamond

    It's interesting how people and companies choose to take a stance. If England doesn't agree with Qatar's response to gender rights, why don't they just boycott the WC? Seems like when it's convenient or when dollars are involved, all morals and sensibility just go out of the window. If the WC was being played in Russia this year, I bet you no country would be going.

    1. Joe Guest

      It's not England at all. It's a private company based there.

  23. Kona Guest

    This is plain silly. Is this really what the LGBTQ movement has descended into? Flying planes with mildly pro gay cartoons into a staunchly Islamic country as a "protest"? How about boycotting the World Cup?

    1. Snowflake Guest

      It's not the "LGBT movement ", it's just a private company making a stance about something, not surprising for VA, for anyone familiar with the company's history.

  24. Duck Ling Guest

    And yet they have suspended their 'gender neutral' staff uniforms on this flight. Pathetic. Isn't this kind of flight what the whole gender neutral uniform should be about??

    As per usual, Virgin being Virgin. All blah blah blah talk the talk but won't walk the walk.

    1. SamB Gold

      There may have been safety concerns for the staff i.e. trans or non-conforming crew might be harassed by the authorities in Qatar. You can't arrest a plane for being gay.

    2. SwimBikeFly Guest

      Safety concerns. Lol.

  25. Sherry Guest

    Thankfully though they’ve dropped the gender neutral uniforms for the crew on this flight to Qatar. As they should - respect for local cultures and customs trumps all.

    1. Joe Guest

      Gendered clothing norms - those local customs to which you refer - are dumb, and should be ridiculed in Qatar or Arkansas or wherever they occur.

    2. Leonard Guest

      What is to be respected about Qatari/Arab culture in this context?
      Should we also respect the culture of bribery, deadly labour violations, mistreatment of women etc....?

    3. Gay Sherry Guest

      I agree Sherry, lets all respect hate, err I mean the culture.... I'll start with you, I hate you, why? You're different from me.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

TravelinWilly Diamond

They *are* playing football (“soccer” as you call it). This is just a discussion, it’s not preventing games from being played. JFC, calm down, Mary.

6
Snowflake Guest

It's not the "LGBT movement ", it's just a private company making a stance about something, not surprising for VA, for anyone familiar with the company's history.

5
LuisRPM Member

So brave, so bold... This is a calculated risk, not to send a message to Qatar but to make another (useless and harmless) virtual signing to the western world. It is just hyprocrisy...

5
Meet Ben Schlappig, OMAAT Founder
4,788,713 Miles Traveled

27,627,500 Words Written

32,315 Posts Published