It’s no secret that Virgin Atlantic is one of the world’s best airlines. Yet flying with Virgin means not only cruising in style but choosing a carrier committed to good causes. So beyond their impeccable customer service and scarlet branding, learn more lesser-known facts about Virgin Atlantic in our guide below. And you might just wish you had flown Virgin all along...
Tackling Climate Change
There’s no hiding from climate change and its effects on our planet. But there are ways we can help reduce our carbon footprint on Earth, and the sooner we act, the better. Virgin Atlantic has come to the table, seeing the red signs and going green, implementing significant changes to reduce its environmental impact.
In 2008, Virgin Atlantic completed the pioneer commercial flight using renewable fuel. By 2019, their carbon dioxide emissions plummeted by 18%. They’ve since retired their four-engine planes and introduced the sustainable Airbus A350. Flying the London - New York City route, the aircraft uses 30% less fuel than competitor airlines. With a current fleet of 70% fuel-saving planes, Virgin Atlantic plans to improve this to 100% by 2027. And by 2050, they aim for net zero carbon status.
While on board, they’ve replaced 90% of single-use plastics with eco-friendly equivalents. Upper-class flyers now choose food on a menu in a move to reduce food waste, with a planned extension to premium customers in 2023.
Another aviation first, Virgin Atlantic launched gender-neutral uniforms made from 25% recycled plastic. Flight attendants of all genders can choose to wear whichever uniform they fancy.
Belonging is a core value of Virgin Atlantic. They feel its imperative that employees express their individuality and feel accepted in the workplace. What’s more, both flight attendants and passengers can wear optional pronoun badges, normalising the inclusive practice of sharing one’s preferred pronouns.
Employees as Individuals
Another of Virgin Atlantic’s core values is inclusivity. For all employees to be empowered individuals, Virgin’s Be Yourself programme was created. It focuses on diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace.
Be Yourself goes even further than recognising the diverse workforce. Staff receive diversity training for awareness of minority groups' challenges and how to close this gap. The programme also aims to increase the number of underrepresented groups in leadership positions as well as community outreach initiatives. For example, Virgin Atlantic teamed up with Fantasy Wings, which enables Black, Asian, and youth from other minority ethnic groups the opportunity to enter and excel in the aviation industry.
Reducing the Gender Pay Gap
Virgin Atlantic believes in fairness and equality, and they show this in their pay and equal benefits. One way they hold themselves accountable for reducing the gender pay gap is by publishing a yearly report on their website. While part of the issue is that most pilots are men, and more women are flight attendants, Virgin Atlantic has committed to hiring females in leadership roles to balance out the gender pay inequality and representation in the higher-level workforce.
Passport to Change - a Programme of Hope
Branching off from bridging the gender pay gap is Virgin Atlantic’s Passport to Change initiative, aimed at school children in disadvantaged communities. By exposing school children to working in STEM-related fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths), the programme plans to increase female representation in the aviation industry. In addition, Passport to Change addresses the imbalance of opportunities for minority groups, instilling hope and aspirations for a better future.
Caring for Customers
While Virgin Atlantic creates a culture of well-being and belonging amongst their workforce, they want their customers to feel safe, seen, and supported, too. And that’s why they go the extra mile to make this happen.
One small yet vital change for the LGBTQ+ community is Virgin Atlantic’s update to its gender policy. Customers can now use gender-neutral titles and codes that match their passports when booking a ticket or checking in online. So instead of choosing male or female, LGBTQ+ flyers can instead select ‘U’ or ‘X’ and input ‘Mx’ in line with their gender-neutral passport.
Caring for customers also involves making them feel at home, something Virgin Atlantic achieved on 24 to 26 December 2022. On select routes, Virgin served Christmas meals of roast turkey or butternut wellington to all passengers across cabins, ensuring no one missed out on a festive feast in the sky. And, of course, Christmas pud’ was on the menu, too. A few days later, flyers toasted the new year with a mini-bottle of champagne.
Staff Training on Hidden Disabilities
Anyone wearing a Virgin Atlantic uniform has received training on hidden disabilities. Although hidden disabilities aren't always apparent to the public, airline staff is familiar with ways to support people with autism and other cognitive disabilities.
Virgin Atlantic has gone even further to create a downloadable hidden disability symbol, which is also available at check-in on a card or as a pin. This is a great non-verbal way that passengers with hidden disabilities can request special assistance from Virgin Atlantic’s trained staff.
Helping the NHS
Resourceful and resilient as ever, when the pandemic hit in 2020 and planes were grounded, Virgin Atlantic made a plan. With the NHS under strain with overworked doctors and nurses, Virgin Atlantic’s flight attendants stepped up and volunteered at hospitals nationwide. Under the guidance of nurses and clinicians, Virgin’s first-aid-trained cabin crew tended to patients in their signature calm approach. Proving yet again how Virgin Atlantic cares for the community and rolls its sleeves up in times of need.
Enhanced Customer Experience
Whether you’re flying domestically or long-haul, Virgin Atlantic recognises that comfort is key. That’s why they ensure an enjoyable onboard travel experience for all passengers across cabins. Their in-flight entertainment, known as Vera, is curated monthly, with a team choosing entertaining and varied content from movies, series, podcasts, and games. And on Virgin’s newest A350 plane, all passengers have a convenient USB charging port, increased overhead storage space and a calmer flight with quieter engines.
In addition, the airline’s dome ceiling and larger panoramic windows create a more spacious illusion inside. Premium passengers enjoy the largest seatback screens across similar-cabin flights, while upper-class guests can access The Booth, a social space where you can grab a drink and socialise on comfy, plush leather seating.
A Wealth of Destinations
Travelling to far-flung destinations for an exotic escape? Well, it's highly likely Virgin Atlantic can get you there. Having partnered with KLM, AirFrance, and Delta airlines, you’ll have a greater variety of destinations to visit, all under one booking reference. This means cost-cutting for you, as you won’t have to make separate bookings with the super convenient codeshare agreement. While you may not get a direct flight on Virgin Atlantic, you’ll board a connecting flight from the codeshare airlines to get you to your destination.
Ready to fly right? Take a look at our Florida 2023 and 2024 deals flying with Virgin Atlantic to take your travels to new heights