Fact Check: Unraveling False DEI Allegations in Virgin Atlantic’s Wing Incident

Virgin Atlantic cancelled a Manchester, U.K. to New York JFK flight after a passenger noticed bolt fastener tops missing on a panel of one of the Airbus A330’s wings on January 15th. The story has made the rounds worldwide because it was a passenger who flagged the maintenance issue prior to departure.

I really had nothing to add to this conversation, sadly, until now. There’s an odd attempt to link this incident to… diversity hiring?

There are several things wrong with this, but let’s start with the photo being the interior of a Boeing 737 and Virgin Atlantic doesn’t operate any narrowbody aircraft.

Here’s where critics get confused. The photo is actually from a Virgin Australia flight on March 5, 2021 from Brisbane to Sydney. Other than licensing fees to Richard Branson’s company, there’s no real connection between them at all. Not only are they on different sides of the world, they aren’t even partner airlines.

Since last week we were talking about United Airlines CEO dressing as a woman for a US Airways employee Halloween party in 2011, it seems like it might have been easier just to grab an old photo of Richard Branson in a drag?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Appreciate you debunking this nonsense, but next time please post screenshots of the Twitter/whatever posts if you feel the need to actually show them. If you link like this you increase engagement and give them the attention they want.

  2. Hate fuels clicks.
    Clicks generate revenue.
    MAGA loves outrage, as they have no policy or legislative successes on which to run.
    MAGA makes an easy target.
    “Creators” need clicks to make that cash.
    DEI is this year’s hot button for clicks.

    That why lies = cash.

    When last year’s hot button of “drag story time” resulted in exposing the large number of religious and conservative arrests for child molestation (not to mention the outragous story of the “Moms for Liberty” story, they had to find a new strawman.

  3. This is your best defense of DEI? I’d say this is the natural result of DEI. When you force hiring decisions to be primarily based on race/gender/sexual orientation, by definition the best qualified people won’t get the job, but worse is you’ve now created resentment and suspicion even when a DEI candidate is the most qualified. Congrats DEI advocates, you are perpetuating that which you claim to be against. As usual, leftist policies make every problem worse.

  4. Libs of TikTok seems to have gone off the rails recently. I wonder if it’s gone from a one woman show to a larger operation with a bunch of crazy interns? It used to be cutting, and now sort of stupid.

  5. DEI is hateful, stupid, and evil. But to blame DEI for every ill in the world, without any evidence, is counterproductive to the cause of fighting it.

  6. Two posts featuring Libs of Tiktok in a few days.

    A couple weeks ago, you posted video of an actual lynching (without giving your readers a content warning).

    What kind of media diet are you consuming? Yeesh…

  7. There is absolutely no point / value in elevating Libs of TikTok crank posts just to shoot them down.

  8. @ Gary — Why do you have to stir up the racists all the time? Don’t you get enough clicks without stirring up all of their hatefullness?

  9. My old land lady wouldn’t fly a plane piloted by a women. Whose side of history will these anti-DEI folks be on?

  10. @Andys:
    > Libs of tiktok exposes left wing lunacy.

    No. They make up lunacy to “expose”. Figure everything you see there is at minimum taken out of context, more likely outright fabrication.

  11. Despite the name, “Libs of TikTok” is famous for being a right-wing agitator. That post is not surprising in the least. Charlie Kirk is also taking absurd swipes at DEI at airlines.

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