Virgin launches UK’s first ‘Pride Flight’ staffed entirely by LGBT+ pilots and cabin crew

Helen Coffey

Virgin is launching a one-off “Pride Flight”, manned by LGBT+ pilots and crew, between London Heathrow and Newark airport in New York.

Hosted by Tituss Burgess, best known for playing Titus Andromedon in Netflix series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the flight will depart on 28 June in celebration of World Pride 2019.

The flight is being billed as “a true celebration of queer culture 38,000ft above the Atlantic”. During the eight-hour journey, passengers will be entertained with drag queen bingo, a Judy Garland singalong, inter-seat speed dating and an inflight DJ.

The event is commemorating the 50th anniversary of New York City’s Stonewall Riots, a series of violent demonstrations by members of the gay community following a police raid on gay club the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York City, in 1969. The riots served a as catalyst for the gay rights movement, both in the US and around the world.

Tituss Burgess said: “At a time when we’re seeing the rights of minority groups under threat, it is more important than ever we stand up and make our voices heard.”

Partnering with NYC & Company and the Alliance for Downtown New York, Virgin is donating an undisclosed portion of ticket sales from the flight to The Attitude Magazine Foundation to advance community Pride initiatives in the UK. More money will be raised onboard through fundraising and raffles – Virgin has committed to raising several thousand pounds through the flight.

Tituss Burgess is hosting the UK's first Pride Flight (Virgin)

In 2016, Virgin Holidays launched a three-year plan to become one of the most inclusive companies in travel, with a programme addressing employees, customers and the destinations they serve.

“We take our commitments to diversity and inclusion seriously, but you can rest assured we have a lot of fun along the way,” said Mark Anderson, global LGBT lead for Virgin Group and executive vice president at Virgin Atlantic. “This is going to be a show-stopping, ground-breaking, one-of-a-kind experience that we can’t wait to bring to the skies next June.”

Flight-only tickets start at £380, and a three-night package to experience World Pride weekend from £699.