Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Should Qantas, Virgin acknowledge members of Australia's armed forces?

Virgin Australia priority boarding for veterans derided by defence association Virgin Australia's Plans To Honour Veterans On Flights Are Being Slammed
Pablo Mccormick | 08 November, 2018, 04:38

A leading veterans' group says Virgin's plans to offer ex-service men and women priority boarding and in-flight thanks "smacks of tokenism".

Virgin has announced they will join a campaign being driven by News Corp Australia and will soon acknowledge defence force veterans on all its flights before take-off.

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Members of veterans organizations can sometimes receive discounts when booking tickets, but veterans in the United States do not typically receive priority boarding.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Defence Industry Minister Steven Ciobo voiced their support for the idea, calling on Qantas, Australia's flag carrier airline, to follow suit.

"We acknowledge the important contribution veterans have made to keeping our country safe and the role they play in our community, " Virgin Australia chief executive officer John Borghetti said in an interview with Brisbane's Sunday Mail.

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Some have criticised the move as it doesn't offer any real benefits to veterans such as discounted fares.

"Once the veterans have their cards and lapel pins, they will simply need to present them during the boarding process to be given priority boarding and be recognised on board".

The announcement also comes as the federal government approved a 500 million Australian dollar, or about $360 million, upgrade of the national War Memorial, a sizable investment at a time when other national institutions are facing budget cuts. "Nearly any veteran I can think of would be hideously embarrassed by being singled out like that", Carlton added.

Another said: "Hey Virgin Australia if I have a choice ..."

However, Veterans' Affairs Minister Darren Chester acknowledged some veterans would be uneasy about the extra attention, and would prefer discounted airfares.

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"Australians, by nature, tend to keep their light under a bushel. Some would be happy to get on the plane without anyone knowing they are there". "I fly Virgin. This puts me off".

Another agreed, writing: "Virgin Australia we are Australians... We're not quite as loud or noisy as that", said Mike Carlton, the author of several books about Australia's military history. "Most I've met + know are pretty humble, they don't want a fuss", Andrew Heslop wrote. "American nonsense. Will not fly @Virgin if this goes ahead".

"I would be embarrassed because, as a person who has served in the defence force, you don't do it for accolades. we don't have to be acclaimed", he said.

"For every veteran (howsoever defined) that thinks it is a good idea, there are others who would find it trite and embarrassing", he said. "I don't think veterans want to use priority boarding".

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