Australian airline to rethink plan on honoring veterans on its flights

Source: Xinhua| 2018-11-09 14:48:09|Editor: Liangyu
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CANBERRA, Nov. 9 (Xinhua) -- Virgin Australia Airlines has decided to think again about its plan to give veterans priority boarding.

"Over the coming months, we will consult with community groups and our own team members who have served in defense to determine the best way forward," the second-largest airline of Australia has tweeted.

"If this process determines that public acknowledgement of their service through optional priority boarding or any announcement is not appropriate, then we will certainly be respectful of that," the company said.

Chief executive of Virgin Australia John Borghetti on Wednesday explained that the offer of priority boarding for veterans was intended to be optional.

Earlier on Sunday, the company announced that veterans would be able to present their veterans' card to go to the front of the boarding queue after receiving recognition from the flight crew before take-off.

Explained by the company as "a gesture genuinely done to pay respects," the act was criticized by many social media users as "tokenistic" and unnecessary, calling for real medical and social support for veterans.

According to Borghetti, related reports were overblown, although he was pleased about the fact that the incident "has actually opened up a broader conversation."

Some Australian officials doubt that veterans might feel embarrassed about the move. "There's a fine line between embarrassing them and thanking them," Chief executive of the Australia Defense Association Neil James said.

Virgin's idea was welcomed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Defense Industry Minister Steven Ciobo, with the latter calling on Qantas, Australia's flag carrier airline, to follow suit.

Qantas responded that it is "difficult to single out a particular group as part of the boarding process," since there are various kinds of people who have been or are serving the society and the country.