Virgin Australia Will Honour Veterans On Flights

Australia does not have the same sort of flight benefits provided to veterans and active service personnel as seen on US airlines. There are acknowledgements on certain days, such as a minute of silence on Remembrance Day, and well as announcements by crew and/or pilots for those flying on Anzac Day. But it hasn’t been part of the Australian culture to have recognition or benefits everyday for those who serve their country when flying.

Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve been on any non US airline where there has been military service acknowledgment.

News Corp Australia has launched a campaign called #ThanksForServing, which has been supported by the Australian Prime Minister for greater recognition of veterans in Australia by major corporations.

Virgin Australia has agreed, announcing they will:

  • Offer priority boarding to defence force veterans (I assume this will also include active service personnel)
  • Acknowledge these people by making an intercom/tannoy announcement prior to take off

However they will not offer special discounted fares to veterans or active service personnel.

Australia’s Veterans Affairs Minister has applauded Virgin Australia for their acknowledgements, but is pushing for discounted fares as well, as he believes Australia’s veterans would prefer cheaper travel than being singled out in front of a plane full of passengers.

Australia has a very different culture around acknowledging and respecting both active service personnel and veterans. On both Anzac Day and Remembrance Day the entire country will join together to recognise those who have served their country, but on other days of the year I don’t consider the general public in Australia to be very patriotic.

It is quite unlikely Australians would approach an active service person, say, on the street to thank them for their service to the country, while I understand it is common place in the US.

Qantas has announced that they will not be joining the campaign, noting they already make special announcements on both Anzac and Remembrance Days (as most companies in Australia do), and noted:

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 [with the exception of passengers with special needs].”

Bottom line

I have the utmost respect for anyone who serves their country, both currently or previously, regardless of my personal views on the political situations and decisions that may have led to the need for deployments.

I also have no issues with them receiving priority boarding, and wouldn’t mind if they received the odd free upgrade too.

But outside of Anzac Day or Remembrance Day I personally would never go out of my way to stop a stranger in the street just because they were in uniform and thank them. I would feel uncomfortable and I’m guessing they would too. Australians aren’t as patriotic as Americans are.

This campaign does seem a bit like a ‘flavour of the month’ type thing where people obsess about it for a short period and then promptly forget about it. Ask Australians next week about horse racing and see if anyone is still interested in discussing it. 😉

I wonder if this will lead to veterans not utilising priority boarding, in order to avoid being singled out once the flight has fully boarded. This would make the entire campaign rather pointless.

How would you feel about veteran acknowledgements on Australian flights?

Comments

  1. It just doesn’t fit with Australian culture. I think noone in the military would want to take this up and it will be awkward if anything.

    And boarding order is not as big a deal in Australia as the US because people have a lot less carry on.

  2. Hey James. Just wanted to let you know ANZAC should always be capitalised as it stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps.

    As an aside, I think this action is a poor substitute for the government to make some real change by supporting mental health services for current and former service men and women. An announcement and early boarding is not going to stay to deal with issues faced by defence force personnel.

  3. I agree with Damien, I think this is a weak effort. Most veterans just want to get on with their lives as with as much normality as everyone else, which they need support to do. They don’t need priority boarding on flights.

  4. An empty gesture. Australians want the government to take measurable actions to help returned armed forces personnel with their well-being not something tokenistic like priority boarding.

    The way our armed services are run/viewed are also very different to the US.

  5. I don’t understand why the whole military thing is given so much importance. Everyone’s got a job to do and is paid for it. So what makes them so special is beyond me.

  6. @James, I’m sorry, and I don’t believe it was intentional but this article is incredibly patronizing. Why, in a story about the new policy of an Australian airline, which affects Australians, in Australia, do you feel it necessary to bring up the US four times?

    “It is quite unlikely Australians would approach an active service person, say, on the street to thank them for their service to the country, while I understand it is common place in the US.”

    Is this a real sentence? I understand you’re trying to be sensitive to possible differences between two different countries, but this is completely absurd. I’ve lived my entire life in the US and have never seen this happen.

    I think your perspective might have been altered by spending so much time in airports, which is one of the few areas where there is regularly some sort of special treatment for members of the military.

  7. James . How would they police this? Priority boarding on VA is often a longer line already with rhe massive amount of people entitled through status , economy x etc. I have utmost respect for veterans and serving personnel but this really is just a stunt. What next ? ” please to come to the front if you are a jockey and have ever won at flemington..” ???? Lol

  8. @james, why do you feel the need to reference the USA every single time you make a point. The article would have flowed much better if you just explained the changes to boarding order for virgin australia, ignoring US culture.

  9. @777 – THANK YOU!

    It’s complete nonsense, and I am sick and tired of hearing these announcements on US carriers. Silly brain dead people ooohing and arrrhing over Military folks in Uniform in every US airport.

    ALL of these wars are not anything remotely close to what the public are told they are. If one chooses to go serve in the military that is on them, and THEIR JOB!!!

    You can’t fight for “Freedom” – when the same hand controls both sides (proven time and time again). So no need for others to say they are fighting for my/our freedom. They are NOT so save it.

    I’ve lived in US Military cities and people talk and they know war is complete bs. I was also in nyc on 9/11 …before anyone starts with that. The public are clueless and lap up this type of nonsense. Sad

    So Virgin, stop with the nonsense!

  10. Well, we always knew that Rupert Murdoch wanted to turn Australia into the United States–but it’s a real shame to see Virgin going along with it. I’d like to see the Virgin management be as excited about their Gold and Platinum members as they appear to be about the ADF. It’s been cut after cut after cut, between the carrier fees last week and the three-hour limit this week. I know it’s beating a dead horse but apathy from upper management toward their most loyal customers is really starting to grate.

  11. Personally I don’t think its a good idea its a cop out for offering real support to veterans second no one will probably take it up and third there are police ,doctors and other life savers so veterans shouldn’t get single outed though ultimately I don’t really care and its Virgins choice after all. I am interested on my next Virgin flight to see how this plays out

  12. James,

    I think you neither know any Australian Veterans or you’re pandering to a US audience. The son of a fallen veteran, the Government not only respected my mother’s sacrifice in the loss of a husband but supported her with a VA Gold Card, excellent health care and a generous pension (combined with my father’s super). We always describe that we can do more without being thankful for what we already receive. My Education was paid for and I’ll be eternally grateful for that.

    Australians do respect the service of the military but as QANTAS eloquently stated, we don’t seek out and thank Police, the Fire Brigade, Ambos, Teachers, Nurses or anyone else who serves us on a daily basis.

    Yet the solidarity associated with the ANZACs binds the nation together, provides us with immense national pride and a deep respect for those who sacrificed their lives for us. We don’t seek war and see our participation in them as supporting our friends and allies. I think that is the fundamental difference between the two cultures. All Australians love a free lunch but singling out Veterans would be unaustralian.

  13. It is an awful idea and glorifies war. I don’t have the “utmost respect ” for veterans and consider them to be misguided at best.

  14. It seems that there is almost universal agreement that such a policy, if introduced, would not be welcome by the travelling public. I agree. As a ‘veteran’ myself, I think the idea is RIDICULOUS!

  15. James – I’ve got to say this isn’t a great article. I’m a big fan usually, but frankly I think to say that Australians aren’t as patriotic as Americans is such a gross generalization as to be insulting. It’s very hard to comment objectively on this without resorting to some level of stereotyping. I would say that in general Americans have a very different approach to their military than Australia. That’s not to say that Australians don’t respect and value the effort that service personnel put in,but rather they are more reserved in how they express it (dare I say it, similar to the Brit’s). As a Brit in Australia who travels extensively to the US I would suggest that most Australians (and Brit’s) would be very uncomfortable with the way that comments are made about the military over there. It’s not about support or otherwise for military service or military actions, it’s a cultural thing. In general the Americans are much more vociferous and voluble in their patriotism. That may or may not be a good thing, but it doesn’t mean they are more patriotic – and to suggest otherwise is grossly unfair. News outlets in Australia have carried this story and the vast majority of veterans are against it. Which probably tells you what you need to know.

  16. Absolute nonsense, Virgin, this is not an Australian ‘thing’ in any way, shape or form. Fortunately,, it seems the Company is starting to back-track after being heavily criticised in social & other media.

  17. Culturally I don’t think this practice will fit the same way in Australian society as well as it fits in U.S society. It is a nice gesture though,
    As stated some people just wish to get on with their lives.
    I think offering flight discounts for travel on around the times of ANZAC Day or Remembrance day and some acknowledgement on them days is a nicer gesture and suffice.

  18. …why not respect all public service and non-profit workers?

    I am an American and still cannot wrap my head around the idea of picking a certain portion of the public service population and thanking them exclusively.

  19. Ridiculuos! I second all above who are against this. I am tired of “thank you for your service” BS in the USA…, did not think Australia was that bad. I once again agree with Larry David on a recent episode regarding this nonsense. It’s 2018, everyday less and less people are for wars and killing. If you want to be treated with priority than pay the price tag, don’t feel entitled to it…

  20. The US is a military-crazed state that has the national psyche of a backwards third world nation – this makes sense there.

    In Australia however it will just sound ridiculous. I’m not remotely surprised there’s been such a backlash here.

  21. Just want to echo everyone above against equating patriotism with anything military.

    Military is very important and deserves our respect, don’t get me wrong. But to me teachers who educate the next generation of sensible and responsible citizens are the utmost patriots.

  22. I think — as we’ve since seen with the backtracking the Virgin’s done — that it’s important to involve veterans in the decision making.

    Also… Damien isn’t quite correct with ANZAC versus Anzac. Accepted norm in Australia and New Zealand is to use “Anzac” for the day and the spirit, and only refer to “ANZAC” when specifically refering to the corps. There’s more at https://mch.govt.nz/nz-identity-heritage/anzac-day/anzac-guidelines

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