Partner of a Pilot
The Candid Diary of an Airline Pilot’s Girlfriend

New Virgin Atlantic Advert. There are TWO pilots on the plane, damn it!


If you’re in the UK, you probably wont fail to notice the new Virgin Atlantic advert.  I’m really in two minds about it. I love the Frankie goes to Hollywood track, and all the 80’s references; but as for all the rest of the kitch, stereotype cliche’s. PLEASE!?

Firstly, as Flying High said in her recent post, there are (at least)  TWO pilots to a plane (possibly three for the flights Virgin operate)… This ad plays on every bloody stereotype in the industry: Sleazy, lecherous pilot, surrounded by glamour model type cabin crew, wearing sky-scraper high heels, bouncy wigs and a mask of make-up.

Well, I’m sorry, but the glamour days of the airlines are, unfortunately over.  Sorry to burst the bubble, but you are far more likely to be greeted by this lovely lady when you board any passenger jet, than any of the glamour models from the Virgin advert (unless you are lucky enough to catch my friend’s flight, but she’s happily married with beautiful children already).

I can’t help but find the ad amusing, but as a woman it doesn’t make me want to rush out and ‘change my job’, or my ticket for that matter.  Perhaps Virgin doesn’t value it’s female and homosexual male customers? 

It is, let’s face it, completely sexist, and caters to the lowest common denominator in men.  I asked a friend of mine, who is a Virgin hostie what she thought of it. She thought it was funny; but a total piss-take.

She said that she felt they only had one pilot to place the emphasis on the ‘hot women’ image they’re trying to pull off.  I asked if this was going to be their new awaited uniform (rumoured to be by Vivien Westwood). She said she very much doubts it. Apparently the uniform in the ad is meant to be symbolic of all of their uniforms over the years (sorry boys), the white stripes representing the old beauticians that used to work on board.

It reminds me very much of this scene from ‘Catch Me if you Can’ when Lionardo DiCaprio struts through the airport under the nose of the police with a ton of hosties, even down to the comment ‘should have been a pilot’ from one of the actors in the airport

What do you think?

Oh, and if you liked these videos, check out the ones on the next post Comical Aviation Videos, there’s a great one poking fun at the demise of ‘Hooters Air’

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34 Responses to “New Virgin Atlantic Advert. There are TWO pilots on the plane, damn it!”

  1. Oh, I think it’s fairly harmless really… although one of my colleagues did say he felt it was like 20 years of women’s lib had never happened!

    I do think it’s a shame there’s just the one hunky pilot though (you know how I feel about the fact there are always two on board…) and one extra source of testosterone in the ad would have been lovely!!

    It’s a great tune and a funny ad. I think Virgin is generally tongue in cheek about itself, and I like that. And at the moment, if it encourages more people to fly, well, that can only be a good thing!

  2. I agree to a point, which is why I said I was in two minds about it. I agree with your colleague though, and something about it doesn’t quite sit right with me.

    Personally I would like to see a bit more eye candy for us females, and a few camp trolley dollies-just to ensure that EVERY industry stereotype was suitably show cased!

  3. Im afraid if i truely think about what it means, i think it is inappropriate and suggestive, from a purley selfish point of view. If its on the TV and Im sitting with my family or friends, it will make me feel uncomfortable. I am trying to think of another job that has a similar advert about it, and i cannot. The appeal of the add is very one sided and it wouldnt be able to be tongue in cheek if the sterotypes werent already there in society and people already on some smaller level didnt think this way.

  4. Those are very good points Andrea. I think I would too. I remember watching it with my children, and wondering what they made of it. I wonder if things like that could make my sons and daughter insecure about their family security as they get older.

  5. On a scale of 1 to Brannif’s “Come fly me”, it’s pretty harmless. Quite funny actually and not just a similarity to the Catch Me if You Can scene – it’s a direct parody on it!

    The media is filled images and stories to make your daughter feel insecure (it’s designed that way so she buys the products to make her feel better) and I don’t think the Virgin ad is going to do her any more harm.

  6. True, so you are saying that media plays on womens insecurities, I completely agree. Thats nothing new though is it. I am so dissapointed that a comment I read earlier is so true, ‘its like womens lib never happened’. I support people like Gok Wan and Dove, because even though they are benefiting financially from tapping into a feeling that is already established in women of today, they are the only people I can think of who are doing anything at all. I think I feel a campaign coming on …

  7. I must add though, that as a wife of a pilot, I will be the one who will be uncomfotable watching it with my friends. My other friends who are lawyers, teachers, internet business owners, P.A’s etc will not experience this. There is no other job that has this stereotype, whereas the media playing on womens insecurities is a general thing.

  8. Agreed Andrea. …And Baswell, I worked in Advertising for a time, so I understand how fear is a powerful buying motivator; but I feel that I have to point out that my daughter’s potential insecurities watching this kind of material will be far different than any insecurities she might experience as she watches a lipstick advert.

    Plus I hardly think comparing todays airline advertising standards against those of an ancient, bankrupt, long-gone, nototriously morally-corrupt and politically incorrect company like Baniff’s; isn’t exactly the greatest bench mark really is it? Next thing you know, you’ll actually be wodering why Ecstasky and Hooters Airlines http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=ihOJB4WmdaE went bust?!

  9. Wow!
    Far to much time on your hands methinks

  10. Haha! Er, listen ‘Kev’, if you think so, why did you waste your time reading it? That’s such a LAME and hypocritical comment!

  11. Hey, don’t get me wrong, I think sex does sell. But Hooters Air?

    Well.

    Not a cracking business model to start off with, and then there’s the whole stick to what you’re good at thing. Lets just say I’d rather fly with an airline that I know is safe and reputable and takes what they do seriously.

    If I want to go to Hooters, I’ll stick to one where my feet are firmly grounded. If I want to travel in an airplane I’ll trust my life at 40000ft in the hands of professionals!

  12. Well it’s a bit of fun and I quite enjoyed it. It is obviously very tongue-in-cheek and in this age of red tape and political correctness I have to admit I sometimes applaud things that go against the grain.

    The girls look stunning. I bet my partner wishes the flight attendents at his gaff looked like that! Lol

  13. only older planes require a 3rd pilot (flight engineer) but most likely by 1984 virgin would have owned the newer 747-400 that only requires 2 pilots

  14. Thank you very much for that Passenger Carrier, but I wasn’t thinking of the Flight engineer when I wrote that. I was refering to third pilot operations whereby if you turn a plane around quickly from a long haul destination (i.e on a transatlantic flight from the UK) and the pilots are not deemed acclimatised, then you are required to carry a third pilot for the journey home.

  15. I am still trying to figure out what really upsets you:

    a) The use of beautiful women to sell a product.
    b) “Your partner” being portrayed as a sleazy womanizer makes you uncomfortable because other people might believe he actually is.
    c) your daughter might think all guys are easily led to infidelity by any beautiful woman, making her insecure about relationships.

    Well…
    a: that’s advertising, baby.
    b: Who cares what other people think? With me being in IT, do you think my wife feels uncomfortable whenever she sees the stereotype nerd or geek portrayed on television? Or that my accountant’s wife is uncomfortable with stereo types about her “boring” husband?
    c: She’ll just have to learn to tell the reliable ones from the not so reliable ones, just like you did. Yup, she’ll likely get hurt in the process – like most of us did. It’s better to teach her there are SOME men (and women, I might add, as a man) like that and to keep an eye out for it, without getting paranoid, rather than pretend it does not exist. I am sure you’ll be sensible enough to find the right balance, especially with humorous ads like these to help!

    It’s really just an ad…

  16. Hi Baswell, I’m not bothered by the use of beautiful women to sell a product, I am bothered by the general perception that members of the general public believe that this is a true representation of the industry. I get pitying looks from people who obviously think I’m stupid to be with a pilot, and I get tired of defending him, his fidelity and the strength of our relationship.

    You’re right, ultimately I don’t care, but it wears me thin occasionally, and this just helps to perpetuate those same tired old cliches.

    Today is a good day. I could watch the ad 20 times and probably find it amusing and fun. But on a bad day, when I’ve just had the ‘looks’, or I’ve spent ten minutes trying to tell my friends that actually that’s not what the airline industry is all about, this ad will grate on me.

    Generally, I’m pretty thick skinned, but the day I posted this entry, was one of ‘those’ days.

  17. Hey, if you ever have an exteremely thick skinned day, download the deliciously terrible UK TV show “Mile High” – stereo type galore, it’s hilarious. (my hostie sister thinks so also!)

    And of course there is also the book “Air Babylon” – all the things you come acros working for an airline your whole life crammed into a 24 hour timeframe.

  18. Oh come on it is a great advert. While it may not persuade a woman to choose a career as a trolly dolly, I assure you it will persuade a man to change his airline.

    You might enjoy reading this:

    http://caughtinthemiddleman.wordpress.com/2007/03/09/planes-trains-automobiles-part-2/

    Consider it to be a health and safety issue – if the stewardess isn’t attractive men don’t pay attention to the safety announcement!

  19. Middle Man, It is an okay ad. I wouldn’t say great. I really think they could do better to appeal to a wider audience other than just men.

  20. Oh come ON! Why are you all sooo serious. It’s an ADVERT for heaven’s sake, glamourised to sell the Airline. Who cares – personally I love it, I wish I was as glam as the girls and the “pilot” is gorgeous, whoever he is. I want some red shoes now.

    In response to another reply, it reminded me of Catch me if You Can as well – great film.

  21. Well I AM as glam as the girls on my good days! HAHA… I just get my days where the stereotypes annoy me! Jenny are you the significant other of a pilot?

  22. As it happens, no I’m not the partner of a pilot (I wouldn’t mind being HIS partner though (the actor in the ad)), which is why I guess I can take a more relaxed view on it! I might well feel different about it if my partner was a pilot or perhaps if I was a trolley dolly, sorry, couldn’t resist it. I’m just joking, I don’t want to incur the wrath of everyone in the industry; my son was cabin crew until a few years ago. I still don’t know why everyone is so screwed up about it. Does it really matter if its stereotypical? It’s still a great ad, love it. It’s just a bit of fun. It’s one of the best ads around at the moment….oh yes AND the Aero advert! Forgot about him, temporarily!

  23. I Love it, this ad makes me want to fly again, such energy. and the girls are amazing, obviously Richard Bransons choices.

  24. Jenny and Jam, I feel exactly the same as you. I absolutely love it. Come on the others, where’s the harm?

    And in response to one of the answers about that it should appeal to women more as well, my answer is that Im a woman and i can say everything: the music, the humour, the feeling of being transported back in the old days, etc, made me want to book with virgin atlantic!

  25. I agree fully with your post. It’s as if the past twenty-five years never happened. I change my mind about VA if they show me a female pilot.

    The only thing that _has_ happened during this time is a steep decline in passenger service. My recent VA flight from Barbados to LGW had the worst service I’ve experienced in twenty-five years of travelling.

    Still hot–not!

  26. […] this post where I bitched about the new Virgin […]

  27. My god how can anyone moan about this ad…….I think its the most cheerfull ad i’ve seen in a long time. The music is great, everything about it reminds me of the great eighties, it’s fun fun fun & a bit of a micky take……..CHILL AND ENJOY

    • I much prefer the Pam Ann version-if you want a real laugh check that one out on my blog-that’ll have you laughing your socks off Thomo

  28. Somebody please tell me if they ever get on an aircraft with such glamourous crew these days. The reality is, starting from the top…Cabin Managers- Haggared, sun-damaged, chain smoking 50somethings who blatently don’t want to do the job anymore. Followed by the rest of the crew, 20 something space cadets, heavily made up complete with a St Tropez Tan who go to work to gossip and serve the odd tea and coffee. OK, i’m being a little stereotypical but..

    In my airline days I had crew calling in hysterical and in floods of tears because they got a puncture on the way to work! What are they going to do in a rapid decompression? Go figure!!

    • HAHAHA I laughed when I read that last part-so did Bf when I read it to him, he kind of rolled his eyes and said-that’s about the sum of it!

  29. Hi everyone

    Well, I see a lot of ad work in my business, and this is one I think has captured the PAST beautifully.

    The wonderful atmosphere of Frankie, the then utter glam image of Virgin cabin crew and basic human nature all bundled up into a gem of a telly treat. I turn the tv sound way up! I love the fact that the pilot is shown as confident as much the girls.

    Play it again sam.

    Relax!!!!!

    It’s just a fun ad.

  30. Correct answer Dave V… Lighten up guys!….. seriously!

  31. You seem to have totally missed the point of this ad. It is supposed to be portraying an image of the airline 20 years ago, hence the 80s music, hairstyles, old shop fronts etc. In the 80s, this was the image of the airline industry. And as for the comment about it being as though 20 years of women’s lib never happened, well that is the point – it’s reminding us how it used to be in the industry when Virgin first launched.
    I’m also the partner of a pilot, and I love the ad, as do my husband and all the glamorous (and not so glamorous) air stewardesses he flies with 😉

  32. i loved the ad, cant watch it with my husband though as i had an affair with a married virgin pilot he was much better looking than the bloke in the ad , they should have used him.when affair started had no idear he was a v pilot, i thought he was a security guard! started to fall for him, so ended it befor any one got hurt,but the fact he is a v pilot dosnt mean pilots have more affairs than any other man, what ever his occupation. just enjoy the ad .


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