Virgin Australia to offer priority boarding to military veterans

Virgin will now give Australia’s service men and women priority boarding. Image AAPMore

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

"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 John Borghetti was quoted in News Corp media outlets on Sunday.

"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 onboard", he said.

The plan does not appear to include airfare discounts for veterans.

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

The proposal echoes similar acknowledgment in the USA, although some carriers also offer discounts to veterans.

The federal government has thrown its support behind Virgin's move.

Defence Industry Minister Steven Ciobo said it was "tremendous" for the airline to salute the service of soldiers.

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.

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"Australians, by nature, tend to keep their light under a bushel", Chester sad. "Some would be happy to get on the plane without anyone knowing they are there", he told the ABC.

"They do work that I could never have contemplated doing, but are providing more of a service to more people than I ever did". "This all feels like one big ad for Virgin Australia", Leo James commented on Twitter. "I fly Virgin. This puts me off".

While military service is respected, and major anniversaries of the Battle of the Coral Sea and World War I have heightened awareness of past sacrifice, Australians are broadly low-key in their praise.

However, callers to Andrew Dickens were more mixed about where or not the same treatment should be given here.

"Are we also going to thank paramedics, nurses, doctors, teachers, social workers - those who also serve society?"

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

The government scheme would see members of Australia's armed forces receive a discount card and lapel pin so that participating businesses can offer discounts or benefits to veterans (putting aside that in Australia we traditionally use the term veterans to describe retired members of the armed services).

"I've worked with a lot of the veterans and I think they'd find it terribly embarrassing".

"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.

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