Flying the friendly skies looks to have become something of a bitter misnomer after 13 members of Virgin Atlantic’s flight crew were found to be using popular social network Facebook to insult passengers and criticise the company’s safety standards.
The 13 members of flight crew were subsequently dragged over hot coals during an official Virgin Atlantic investigation into their conduct, which resulted in all of them having their careers with the company brought to an abrupt end.
The disciplinary action was launched last week when it emerged that staff members had held a Facebook discussion in which they labelled Virgin Atlantic passengers as “chavs” (white, poorly educated, aggressive youths).
Beyond insulting Virgin’s valued customer base, the Facebook messages reportedly also said the airline’s fleet was infested with cockroaches and that jet engines were replaced four times in a single year.
A related BBC article reports that the offending Facebook content has since been removed and the investigation has led to the removal of the 13 members of flight crew for bringing the company into disrepute.
While specific flight routes have not been confirmed, the report also notes that the guilty parties are believed to have flown regularly from London’s Gatwick airport.
“Virgin Atlantic can confirm that 13 members of its cabin crew will be leaving the company after breaking staff policies due to totally inappropriate behaviour,” commented Virgin Atlantic’s director of communications Paul Charles in a Reuters interview.
“There is no justification for [Facebook] to be used as a sounding board for staff of any company to criticise the very passengers who ultimately pay their salaries,” he said, before adding that the company has “numerous internal channels for our staff to feed back legitimate and appropriate issues relating to the company.”
Mr. Charles said the discussion has been deleted from Facebook, although it is not certain whether it was removed internally by Facebook or one of the contributing members of Virgin’s flight crew.