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United Airlines partnered with Virgin Australia to connect U.S. travelers to the world’s largest Pride celebration. A special flight from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport (SYD) is scheduled for later today. The flight will be staffed entirely by LGBTQ+ community members and allies. United Flight 863 will depart SFO at 10:45 PM and arrive at SYD at 9:05 AM on Friday, February 24th.
A celebration at the gate will start the festivities and special giveaways and activities are planned onboard. Once the flight arrives in SYD, there will be an additional welcome party. Virgin Australia has offered special domestic flights in Australia for Pride since 2021, but this is the first time United is offering a flight.
As a proud ally of the LGBTQ+ community and the leading carrier from the U.S. to Australia, United is thrilled to join the party and help people celebrate the upcoming Pride events in Sydney,” said Lori Augustine, Vice President of Operations for United in San Francisco. “At United, we recognize, embrace and celebrate the differences that make our customers and employees unique. We’re committed to creating an inclusive work environment while supporting the diverse communities we serve. Our Pride Flight is yet another example of how at United, Good Leads the Way.”
“Virgin Australia launched our initial Pride Flight in the middle of the pandemic and fast forward to today, we have flights all over Australia, and our very first international Pride Flight from San Francisco with our wonderful partner, United Airlines,” said Jayne Hrdlicka, CEO for Virgin Australia Group. “It’s so important that we use our voice to promote diversity and inclusion in the communities in which we live, work and fly. Our partnership with United Airlines is incredibly important and it’s so wonderful to witness the collaboration between the airlines, and the joy we have brought our guests in spreading pride right across the Pacific and throughout Australia.”
I give United a lot of grief (mostly deserved in my opinion) around its catering, product cuts, MileagePlus devaluations, and more. I also call out when they do something good. Inclusion matters and I’m happy to see United honoring Pride to how it commemorated Juneteenth.
United has shown its ongoing commitment to LGBTQ+ equality through the years. It was the first U.S. airline to fully recognize domestic partnerships in 1999. It was also the first U.S. airline to offer nonbinary gender options throughout all its booking channels in 2019. It runs EQUAL, the airline’s LGBTQ+ Business Resource Group, with more than 4,500 members working together to advocate on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community. The group develops ways to deliver resources, education, and advocacy for LGBTQ+ employees.
Anthony’s Take: As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I know how important inclusion and representation can be. I’m happy to see United operate this flight and appreciate all of its efforts to be an ally to LGBTQ+ people worldwide.
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