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Virgin's Cabin Crew Socialising Ban

Joanna Whitehead

February 1, 2022.

Virgin Atlantic's flight crews have been banned from socialising together amid concerns that out-of-hours partying runs the risk of spreading COVID-19 among staff.

Cabin crew and pilots have been instructed not to eat or socialise together, or with staff from other flights, despite spending up to 12 hours working alongside each other on international flights. Virgin bosses also informed crew that they should remain in bubbles of four people maximum when “socialising inside”.

It is understood that the rule, in place since December 21, was introduced due to fears of workers contracting COVID-19 and flights being cancelled due to staff sickness. Such rules are not believed to have been imposed on other carriers.

Martin Chalk, general secretary of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa), the union representing pilots, argues that the restrictions should be lifted with immediate effect.

“The challenges faced and overcome by pilots and our cabin crew colleagues during the pandemic, particularly the overblown and oppressive requirements in some places, are illustrated by the difficulties this airline is trying to address,” he said.

“Airline crew already spend considerable time away from their family and friends. These requested restrictions should be lifted as quickly as possible to enable them to support each other as normal while away from home.”

Virgin's celebrations over new routes from Edinburgh last year would be questionable under the airline's current rules.

Virgin Atlantic

A spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic told The Independent that the airline is “actively reviewing whether this policy is still necessary”.

They said: “We continue to take pre-emptive measures to uphold operational and staffing resilience, always putting the health and safety of our people and our customers first.

“Alongside any local requirements, temporary measures are in place for our crews to minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission while they are overseas. This guidance to our people means we ensure they stay healthy and well and avoid flight disruption or cancellations for customers.

“These measures are kept under constant review and will be maintained only as long is necessary.”

© Joanna Whitehead / 2022

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