Virgin Australia caught in the crossfire over new perk for military veterans

  • Virgin Australia caught in the crossfire over new perk for military veterans

Virgin Australia caught in the crossfire over new perk for military veterans

Oh, and as several veterans themselves have already pointed out, it also offers priority boarding to vets at the expense of people who actually need it, like people with disabilities, or parents with kids.

"I would not dream of walking onto an aircraft ahead of the other passengers as a veteran", said prominent former member of the Australian Defence Force Cate McGregor, lampooning the gesture as "faux-American bollocks". It also plans to offer priority boarding but has stopped short of offering discount fares.

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.

VIRGIN Australia has copped unexpected heat over its decision to honour Australian war veterans on its flights.

"It seems to be all about branding and veterans are the brand du jour", he said.

Rodger Shanahan, a veteran and now a Research Fellow at Lowy Institute, in a column last week into response to a media campaign with the hashtag #thanksforserving, said "we are in danger of reaching "peak veteran", and he finds the proposals "trite and embarrassing".

"[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]".

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

"If you really wanted to thank veterans you'd reinstate the service discount abolished in the early 1980s", he told AAP.

"That is, there are so few Australians now with any understanding of military service and war", he said.

The announcement was compared to the ways of the United States where some airlines ask that passengers stand and applaud for service men and women on board.

"We're investing a lot more money into, in particular, veterans counselling services to help them with the psychological adjustment".

Qantas decided against following Virgin's lead.

"A spokesperson for Qantas said the airline had the "utmost respect for current and former defence force personnel" and special announcements were made on Anzac Day and Remembrance Day".

"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".

Site highlights each day to your inbox.