Virgin Australia's salute and priority boarding for veterans criticised

08 November, 2018, 04:39 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Virgin will now give Australia’s service men and women priority boarding. Image AAPMore

Mackay Veterans Support Group secretary Adam West said it appeared the announcement was a token merely "driven by politics".

In the U.S., some airlines ask passengers to stand and applaud servicemen on board their aircraft and offer a "Thank you for your service".

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

The head of the Australia Defence Association, Neil James, said that the move from Virgin Australia was "tokenistic" and compared it to American cultural values about the military that were not necessarily shared by Australians.

Defence Industry Minister Steven Ciobo says it's part of a wide-ranging approach to supporting veterans.

"If we can get though not just airlines, but if we can do this across the board, I think that is part of reinforcing respect in the Australian community for these men and women", Mr Ciobo told Sky News.

Virgin said it was a genuine gesture to pay respect to those who had served the nation, but the airline was "very mindful" of the response to its announcement over the weekend.

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

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"They do work that I could never have contemplated doing, but are providing more of a service to more people than I ever did".

"Honouring #ausdef veterans if they choose to fly Virgin Australia?"

However, this afternoon Virgin Australia issued a statement in response to public backlash which indicated the airline was reconsidering its decision. I gave more than 25 years to military service, enjoyed my time and left on good terms. "Most I've met + know are pretty humble, they don't want a fuss", Andrew Heslop wrote. "It elevates one group of people above others", Collette Snowdon tweeted.

Catherine McGregor, who served in both with both the chiefs of the RAAF and Army, was similarly dismissive calling Virgin's move, despite being a Platinum member, saying she just joins the queue and it's "faux American bollocks".

The Australian War Memorial in Canberra will get a $500 million facelift.

They would receive these benefits by showing either a discount card or lapel pin being rolled out to the 300,000 ADF veterans by the federal government.

"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".

"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. "I don't think veterans want to use priority boarding".

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