Virgin Australia has admitted it made ‘an error of judgement’ when it published a customer’s email slamming its ‘Pride Flights’ while promoting the initiative in a social media post.
The airline shared to Twitter a screenshot of an email it claimed had been sent by the disgruntled passenger who said celebrating drag queens was ‘mentally deranged’.
‘Your most recent advertising campaign featuring an infinitesimally small fringe group in our society is an insult [to] the normal everyday Australians,’ it read.
The email, sent from an account belonging to ‘Ian and Karen’, attacked drag queens throughout and was signed by a ‘disgusted former customer’ who vowed they would never fly with Virgin again.
In the Twitter post accompanying the email, the airline wrote: ‘Thank you for your email Karen, in case you missed it, Pride Flight is on sale now.’
Virgin was quick to cop brutal backlash over the tweet and on Friday evening admitted posting the email ‘was an inappropriate thing to do’.
In a statement to Daily Mail Australia, the airline said the decision to post ‘disrespectful and hateful email communications about our Pride Flights was an error of judgement by our team’.
Virgin Australia has admitted it made ‘an error of judgement’ by using vile homophobic hate speech in a social media post promoting its ‘pride flights (pictured, the Pride Flight campaign)
On Thursday morning the airline posted to Twitter a screenshot of an email it claimed to have received – which stated celebrating drag queens was ‘mentally deranged’
Twitter followers were quick to call out the airline over posting the offensive email and demanded to know whether it had been faked.
‘Yes, please, support LGBTQI+ but don’t make up fake hate emails to sell airline tickets and then delete your post when called on it,’ tweeted journalist Asher Wolf.
Queer writer and philosopher Joshua Badge called the misguided campaign ‘rainbow capitalism at its finest’.
‘Either it’s fake or they published a hate email… taking bets for which is worse lmao,’ they wrote.
‘I might humbly suggest that the real solution is to just *not* use homophobia as a pretence to hawk plane tickets.’
Twitter followers had been quick to call out the airline over posting the offensive email and demanded to know whether it was faked by Virgin (pictured, airline staff celebrate Pride)
The email Virgin shared, which is understood to have been genuine, attacked drag queens throughout (Pictured, scenes from Virgin’s pride flight launch campaign)
READ THE ‘HOMOPHOBIC’ EMAIL SHARED BY VIRGIN AUSTRALIA:
I am writing to your organization to inform you that I will never fly with your airline again.
Your most recent advertising campaign featuring an infinitesimally small fringe group in our society is an insult to the normal, everyday Australian.
It highlights the depths of depravity your leaders have descended to.
Who, in their right mind, would think it would be a good idea to celebrate the drag queen community and think it will paint your organization in a favourable light…mentally deranged people, I would suggest.
Have you heard the phrase, GO WOKE GO BROKE
Just think of all your everyday staff who are all going to suffer because of your irrational decisions.
A disgusted former passenger
A health advocate wrote: ‘Trying to clickbait both sides to increase engagement? What’s this marketing tactic called? Mirroring? Rage-Baiting?’
When Twitter users continued to complain about the offensive email, the airline quietly deleted the post from its account.
It is understood the email was genuine and was sent to Virgin as a complaint about its pride flight promotion, which includes its own webpage.
In a statement on Friday, the airline told Daily Mail Australia it ‘is incredibly proud of its inclusive culture and its Pride Flight initiative’.
‘At Virgin Australia, we believe it’s incredibly important that we use our voice to champion and support the LGBTQIA+ community in the places we live, work and fly.
‘However, the decision to post online disrespectful and hateful email communications about our Pride Flights was an error of judgement by our team.
‘Whilst the intention was to shine a light on this intolerant conduct, the reality was that it was an inappropriate thing to do.’
LGBTQI+ passengers are encouraged to buy the flights but on twitter one follower called the airline’s misguided promotion ‘rainbow capitalism at its finest’
Several Virgin flights from Australian capitals to Sydney in February 2023 will be co-hosted by Ru Paul’s Drag Race Downunder stars and well-known drag queens
The airline copped a brutal social media backlash over the tweet and on Friday evening it admitted posting the email ‘was an inappropriate thing to do’
The email that triggered the Twitter storm on Thursday stated the Pride Flight initiative featured ‘an infinitesimally small fringe group in our society’.
‘Who, in their right mind, would think it would be a good idea to celebrate the drag queen community and think it will paint your organization in a favourable light…mentally deranged people, I would suggest,’ it read.
The email went on to say that celebrating the LGBTQ community highlighted the ‘depths of depravity’ Virgin Australia bosses had ‘descended to’, and suggested staff would suffer due to ‘irrational decisions’.
The message was signed off as ‘a disgusted former passenger’.
Several Virgin flights to Sydney in February 2023 will be hosted by Ru Paul’s Drag Race Downunder stars including Coco Jumbo, Maxi Shield and Kween Kong and well-known drag queens Penny Tration, Barbie Q and Torah Hymen.
Dannii Minogue was also involved in the launch of the 2023 pride flights initiative.
Virgin’s pride flights to Sydney in February 2023 will leave from Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne
Virgin Australia told Daily Mail Australia the social media post was ‘inappropriate’ and said it was proud of its pride flight program
The airline has spent the last week sharing promotional videos for the campaign featuring drag queens dressed as flight attendants and waving rainbow flags.
Perth passengers can book one-way Pride Flight’s to Sydney for $379 – with Virgin to donate $30 from the sale of each ticket to queer youth charity Minus18.
A dedicated flight on February 24 will be hosted by Perth drag queen Barbie Q with passengers to enjoy DJ performances and a pre-flight party.
Virgin Australia chief people officer Lisa Burquest said the number of Pride Flights had been doubled after the airline received positive community feedback.
‘Diversity and inclusion on all levels is really important at Virgin Australia and the LGBTQ+ community has always been important, as customers and as employees,’ she said.
Finalists from Ru Paul’s Drag Race Down Under finalists Spankie Jackzon (right), Hannah Conda (left) and Kween Kong (centre)