30 Years at Virgin Atlantic | The Ugly Truth


Table of Contents

 

Page 1 – Introduction
Page 1 – A Christmas to Remember
Page 2 – Good Bad and the Useless 
Page 2 – Dealing with a Spurious Grievance 
Page 2 – Grievance Meeting Whilst Off Sick 
Page 3 – The Most Loved Travel Company
Page 4 – Laurence Vs Goliath
The Ugly Truth Part 2

 


Virgin Atlantic | The Most Loved Travel Company

Virgin Atlantic has worked hard over the years to create a positive image for itself. They like to be known as a company where people love to work.

Their latest ‘vision’ is to become “the most loved travel company.”

With regards to mental health, the following comes from the Virgin Atlantic website;


Working well, living better

For people to thrive they need to be well and feel at their best. We take a holistic view of wellbeing and have invested in the physical, mental and financial wellbeing of our people. Our goal is a highly motivated, resilient and vibrant workplace where our people feel valued, listened to and supported. In 2018, a significant area of focus was mental health. We signed the Time to Change pledge and opened up the public conversation about mental health to reduce stigma and discrimination within the workplace. We launched mental health first aid training and awareness sessions across the business and tailored peer to peer support for Cabin Crew.

In 2018, we launched Flourish, a journey which saw 1,600 of our people leaders develop the mindset and techniques they need to be at their best in order to lead and inspire their teams. We believe that by enhancing the capacity and capability of our leaders we can enhance the experience of all our people, ultimately leading to stronger engagement. All these initiatives contribute to the long term happiness of our people and therefore to the long term health of our business.

I attended the Flourish course mentioned in the article above but couldn’t return for the second day. From the perspective of someone who struggles with mental health, I thought the course was awful.

The following article was written by a manager at Virgin Atlantic regarding their approach to employee mental health. It comes from the Virgin Atlantic blog.


Returning to the grievance raised against me by cabin crew member Bart, his written complaint was rude, insulting, hateful, disrespectful and nothing but lies.

With everything that’s currently going on with regards to the tragic case of Sarah Everard, I find it incredibly frightening that Bart was a serving police officer for eight years. I can only hope someone who reads my blog will investigate which police force he worked for and what cases he investigated.

Despite still being in his probation he made twenty two separate complaints about my performance, ability and conduct. I proved conclusively that every single one was a lie.

The initial investigation was carried out by a cabin crew manager who a few years earlier had been a Flight Service Manager. In 2014 she moved to a training job in the office.

In November 2016 she became a cabin crew manager. At the time of the investigation into Bart’s complaint she had been in her role for just over two years. Although kind, pleasant and professional, she lacked the experience necessary to be able to deal with this matter.

The investigative meeting took place on 9th April 2019. She left Virgin Atlantic four months later.

The meeting took place more than three months after the flight. I attended alone because I was confident the company would see through the lies being told by crew member Bart.

What quickly became apparent was that every single aspect of the way I carried out my role as a Flight Service Manager was being investigated. It made no difference that I had been in rank for 19 years, was a high performing employee and had never been in any kind of trouble before.

Having pointed out during the investigative meeting that he was an ex serving police officer of eight years yet everything in his complaint was lies, hearing manager Lana replied; “he’s not a police officer anymore”.

In the following screenshot which comes from minutes taken during that meeting, crew manager Lana told me Bart was unhappy because he hadn’t been given the opportunity to work up.

Having received a copy of the meeting minutes they were difficult to understand and full of inaccuracies. I made many amendments, this is just one. The first black mark covers the real name of cabin crew manager Lana, the remaining three cover Bart’s real name.


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Having returned home after this meeting I felt absolute despair. I was not able to return to work for about a month.

The outcome of Lana’s investigation was made up of 156 pages. It included witness statements from the crew on the flight which I hadn’t seen previously, minutes of a meeting carried out with Bart, plus all correspondence associated with the case.

It was sent to me on the 18th June 2019. I joined Virgin Atlantic on 18th June 1990.


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Outcome of the grievance investigation


I read every word on every page of this hideous investigation which had taken crew manager Lana two months to put together. I was shocked beyond belief to see that five other crew members were supporting Bart’s allegations.

Despite exposing all the lies and inconsistencies, she still concluded there was a case to answer. What was even more astonishing was this crew manager has a degree in criminology and sociology.

Having seen the outcome of the investigation I knew something very strange was going on.

The matter was then passed to cabin crew manager Hayley. She would conduct the disciplinary hearing, look at the evidence and decide whether to uphold or dismiss the allegations.


The grievance meeting with crew manager Hayley was held on 15th August 2019, almost seven months after the flight to Atlanta.

I attended with a union rep’ and as well as manager Hayley, an Employee Relations Consultant was also present. His primary purpose for being there was to ensure correct procedures were followed and to take minutes during the meeting. The minutes he had taken during the first meeting were terrible and those taken during this one were not much better.

As soon as the meeting began it became apparent cabin crew manager Hayley had no idea what she was doing. Not only was the meeting being led by the Employment Relations Consultant but he was also guiding her. During a break I said to the union rep’ “she has no idea what she’s doing”.

Having complained about this at the subsequent appeal meeting with senior manager xx, she replied “Hayley is a very experienced manager”.

In the document I received with the outcome of her investigation she wrote; “Hayley is a very experienced manager but this was her first disciplinary meeting at Virgin.” She went on to say it was my “perception” the meeting was being led by the Employment Relations Consultant.

I found this comment condescending and extremely insulting. Senior manager xx was not present so is not in a position to comment on how the meeting was conducted. Especially considering it was Hayley’s first disciplinary meeting.

Furthermore, during the appeal meeting with senior manager xx that took place some months later, the union rep’ who accompanied me supported my complaint that Hayley was being guided. She also confirmed that it did appear as if the meeting was being led by the Employment Relations Consultant. She also stated at one point Hayley was even reading from the wrong set of notes.

This union rep’ had attended countless similar meetings over many years. She told me there are so many simple and straightforward grievance matters that Hayley could have started off with. To give her a case like this involving a Flight Service Manager being accused of bullying, harassment and inappropriate touching was madness.

It took cabin crew manager Hayley six weeks to deliver the outcome of her investigation. All complaints against me were upheld. She even upheld a complaint that had already been dismissed by cabin crew manager Lana during the first investigative meeting.

Having received the outcome I immediately filed an appeal that was heard by senior manager xx on 29th October 2019.


Senior manager xx told me she would try to deal with the matter as quickly as possible. I received her outcome almost two months later, five days before Christmas.

Having sought advice from ACAS the government’s Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service about taking the matter to an industrial tribunal, they told me I should first raise a grievance about the way the appeal had been handled. I was also advised to file individual grievances against each crew member involved.

Having submitted the grievances to my manager, he told me all seventeen cabin crew managers were currently dealing with at least two disciplinary matters so it may be some time before I hear back from anyone.

I was shocked that so many grievances could be going on at any one time especially considering the size of the cabin crew community. When redundancies were announced anyone with a disciplinary on their file was told they were at risk.

My complaint about the way the grievance appeal had been handled had to be dealt with at director level because it involved a senior manager. Within days of me submitting the complaint, the situation with COVID deteriorated and everything went into meltdown.

Some months later I looked at senior manager xx’s LinkedIn profile. What I saw was really quite chilling and suddenly everything began falling into place, or so I thought at that time.

Whilst describing her responsibilities at Virgin Atlantic she spoke about plans for improving employee engagement procedures to achieve expected business targets. She then says she was responsible for implementing performance improvement plans with a focus on enhancing staff productivity.

I had been on long term sick for eighteen months in 2016 and had subsequently had a further three separate periods of sickness over the last twelve months. These were all because of having to deal with a spurious grievance for bullying, harassment and inappropriate touching.

There had also been an unpleasant incident on a flight to Miami where I was unwell.

I believed these were the reasons why senior manager xx wanted me out. With two final written warnings on my file I could be dismissed.

Some time later I discovered this wasn’t the reason at all.


This was all going on before the outbreak of Covid-19 so even after the first grievance was upheld, I knew it would only be on my file for twelve months. With that said, I was determined to clear my name even if that meant going to an industrial tribunal.

Although the grievance was upheld for the second complaint regarding the forum post, I wasn’t dismissed because the grievance manager downgraded the disciplinary to a written warning, not a final written warning. She also confirmed she did not feel it was appropriate for me to be dismissed.

When redundancies were announced following the outbreak of Covid-19, I was quickly told I was going to be made redundant.

In my redundancy notification letter, Virgin Atlantic claimed part of the reason for being made redundant was because my performance as a Flight Service Manager was below average. As I’ll prove in due course, that was completely untrue.


Life during my last twelve months at Virgin Atlantic was pretty bad and that’s putting it mildly. The amount of stress I was under is difficult to put into words.

Despite dealing with this matter on an almost daily basis and struggling with many other issues in my private life, I continued to give 100% on every flight that I operated. Neither customers or crew could ever have imagined what I was going through.


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Senior manager XX was well aware of my struggles with anxiety and depression


In September 2020 I checked in for a Miami and was looking forward to the flight and to having breakfast on South Beach. What happened that day I will never forget.

The lunch service in the Upper Class cabin had just finished so I told the cabin crew to have something to eat. I went to chat with customers but suddenly felt really bad. It was a strange feeling and I couldn’t pinpoint what it was. I excused myself and went to the bar area to grab some chocolate because I was hungry and thought that may be it.

Eating the chocolate didn’t make any difference and by now I felt as if I was going to faint. I went to the galley and told one of the crew I really didn’t feel well. I went onto oxygen and sat for some time on the jumpseat.

Over the next four hours the way I felt continually changed. One minute I felt better, the next much worse. At times I felt breathless and had pains in my chest which led me to believe I may be in the early stages of a heart attack.

As well as having our onboard defibrillator to hand the cabin crew also opened the emergency medical kit. They had been advised by the medical team on the ground to administer certain medication.

Despite the situation I was calm and super aware of everything going on around me.

The Cabin Service Supervisor from Economy who was looking after me was great. A crew member working in Upper Class also really stood out.

To say I was mortified was an understatement. I had never in all 30 years of flying been unwell on an aircraft.

Even with all this going on my main concern was the customers and supporting the crew to ensure the situation was being dealt with as it should be.

When the afternoon tea service began I was aware the crew were struggling in Upper Class. I asked the Economy CSS to make an announcement apologising for the service being slow and to explain a crew member had been taken unwell.

He subsequently recorded this in mandatory Performance Monitoring that he wrote on me post flight.

I sat in the back galley area for landing and walked off the aircraft before customers were allowed to leave their seats.

More than 300 passengers then disembarked and walked past me whilst I was sat on an ambulance bed at the top of the jetway. Thankfully I wasn’t facing them.


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Taken off the aircraft in Miami by paramedics


I spent the next nine hours in a Miami hospital. After numerous scans and tests which turned up nothing, I was told I could leave. I finally got into bed at 1am. I had checked in for the flight at 8:30am UK time the previous day.

Having spoken to the medical team who work with Virgin Atlantic I was advised to fly home as a passenger. There was nothing wrong with me and I insisted on working home. There was no way I was going to let my team down for a second time. I had been cleared to fly and worked home in my role as a Flight Service Manager.

In hindsight I believe what happened that day was a panic attack. What triggered it I have no idea. One thing I’m certain of is that it was related to the enormous amount of stress I had been dealing with over the past nine months.

On the night flight home I spent time speaking with one of the crew. I had noticed her performance on the outbound flight prior to becoming unwell. After the situation kicked off she ran the Upper Class service and was also incredibly kind to me.

Once home I wrote an email to her manager, something I had done many, many times for cabin crew over the years.

Some months later I received an email from her that brought a much needed smile to my face. She had applied for promotion and had been successful.

Sadly the outbreak of Covid-19 just a month or so later probably meant she never got to do her training.

This crew member and many others like her were part of the reason I flew for Virgin Atlantic for 30 years.

What a difference to the six vile degenerates who I had the misfortune of flying with on 24th December 2018.


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Email from a crew member I flew with on the Miami flight


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