Veterans’ plane priority
AUSTRALIA’S heroes – Defence Force veterans who have selflessly served the nation – will board domestic planes first and be formally acknowledged before takeoff in a bid to further entrench national respect.
The Digger dedication plan will take place on all Virgin Australia flights and will be announced today by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Taking Mr Morrison’s plan to provide veterans with a US-style military card that gives discounts on petrol, food and even weddings a step further, Virgin Australia will honour former servicemen and women with a priority boarding process, and alert passengers via a public announcement that heroes are on board.
Both announcements come as the Sunday Mail launched a #thanksforserving campaign to encourage the community to honour those who served.
Mr Morrison said Virgin chief executive officer John Borghetti understood why Australians were so proud of ex-military personnel.
Virgin will roll out the service when the system of new military cards – or digital ID – starts early next year.
“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.”
Mr Morrison said the idea got a “thumbs-up” from him.
“It’s about nurturing the respect for our veterans, and this was brought home for me really heavily during the Invictus Games (in Sydney last month),’’ 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. I want to ensure we are doing everything we can to protect, preserve and facilitate it.”
Queensland Liberal 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 defence personnel. Qantas has not committed to the idea.
Some US airlines recognise veterans on flights and several times a year they sponsor “honour flights” that fly them to Washington DC to see military monuments.
PRIDE OF THE CITY: Members of the 10th/27th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, march past Adelaide Town Hall yesterday morning during the Freedom of Entry March. Such marches date back to medieval Europe and honour trusted military units that have a close association with a particular city.