Virgin Airlines Plan To Honour Australian War Veterans

Sergio Conner
November 8, 2018

"I think this is a marketing ploy by Virgin, good luck to them if they want to use it as a PR exercise", Senator Hanson told the Seven Network on Monday.

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but surely there are far better, more suitable ways of honouring and thanking our war veterans?"

Virgin Australia says it will consult with the community and its staff over plans to recognise Australian Defence Force veterans travelling on its flights.

"If you really wanted to thank veterans you'd reinstate the service discount abolished in the early 1980s", he told AAP. The head of the Australian Defence Association raised similar concerns, pointing out that there are so many forms of service to the community worthy of recognition.

"If this process determines that public acknowledgement of their service through optional priority boarding. then we will certainly be respectful of that". Its executive director, Neil James, said the announcement was a symptom of a larger problem, which was that "the average Australian no longer understands military war".

"Ideas like this float to the top, whereas in the old days when almost every family had someone who had served in the defence force, common sense would have cut in a lot earlier".

"I think they should dial it down a little".

Critics, including many veterans, said the policy was at odds with Australia's egalitarian national ethos.

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"They find this kind of acknowledgement disconcerting".

"Making sure that their health needs are met, that they're able to find work, that that work reflects the capabilities they've gained in their serving careers".

Qantas responded to the proposal by saying it has "utmost respect for current and former defence personnel" but dismissed Ciobo's call for it to follow Virgin's lead.

"[But] 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 hard to single out a particular group as part of the boarding process [with the exception of passengers with special needs]".

Thousands have expressed their disapproval and vowed to boycott the airline after it signalled it would give military veterans special boarding and in-flight privileges; a move endorsed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

"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 hard to single out a particular group as part of the boarding process".

The bigger problem with putting military personnel on "an impossibly tall pedestal" is that failing to thank so many others who serve the community in sometimes unsafe, high-pressure and potentially traumatic situations, such as emergency service workers, as well as aged care and disability workers, and special-needs teachers leaves him feeling "very uneasy" when there's already a range of support for ex-servicepeople ranging from the Department of Veteran's Affairs toe advocacy groups such as the RSL, and Legacy.

"Australians, by nature, tend to keep their light under a bushel", Chester sad.

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