Diggers flying high
Airline honours our veterans
MILITARY veterans will board planes first and be formally acknowledged before takeoff in a bid to further entrench national respect.
Virgin Australia will today reveal the US-style gesture to honour the nation’s Diggers.
It comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a new military card, which would give veterans discounts off petrol, food and even weddings.
Virgin Australia will honour former service men and women with the airline’s priority boarding process, and alert passengers via a public announcement that the heroes are on board.
Mr Morrison this week spoke with airline chief executive officer John Borghetti, who said he understood why Australians were so proud of ex-military personnel.
“We acknowledge the important contribution veterans have made to keeping our country safe and the role they play in our community,’’ Mr Borghetti said.
“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 on-board.”
It will be rolled out when the system of new cards — or digital ID — starts early next year.
Mr Morrison gave the initiative the “thumbs up”.
“It’s about nurturing the respect for our veterans and this was brought home for me really heavily during the Invictus Games,’’ Mr Morrison said.
“When I talk to veterans from other countries, they are just so touched by the culture of respect Australians have for veterans.
“Prince Harry said the same thing to me (at the Games).
“It was really on display and I just don’t want to take that for granted.
“And as a Government, I want to ensure we are doing everything we can to protect, preserve and facilitate it.”
Qantas has not committed to the idea.
Queensland Senator James McGrath tried to convince airlines to get behind the priority boarding plan last year after meeting with Mates4Mates, which helps wounded or sick former and current ADF personnel.
Several US airlines also recognise veterans on flights and several times a year they sponsor “honour flights” that fly them to Washington DC to see monuments dedicated to former personnel.