30 Years at Virgin Atlantic | The Ugly Truth – Part 3


Table of Contents

 

The Ugly Truth Part 2
Page 1 – The Importance of Evidence
Page 2 – Hideous Bunch of Misfits 
Page 3 – Writing Reviews Post Flight 
Page 4 – Another Incompetent Manager
The Ugly Truth Part 4 (TBA)

 


A Hideous Bunch of Misfits

I want to start this page by talking about my pre-flight briefing.

After delivering briefings for 19 years and receiving nothing but praise for the content and atmosphere I created, I was now being interrogated by Virgin Atlantic.

The following comes from evidence submitted to the company. Crew manager Fred happens to be the same manager who carried out the investigation into the second grievance matter regarding the forum comment.


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The reason my briefing and entire performance as a Flight Service manager was being investigated was because of a complaint submitted by a crew member in his probation who was aggrieved at having received a constructive review.

Almost nothing I said in my defence was believed by the managers who presided over the case. It would take almost three years for me to understand why.

Following the publication of the first two chapters of my blog, I spoke to many colleagues both past and present. Some of the stories I heard regarding how people had been treated over the years by crew managers were truly horrific.

Two people I spoke to were ex cabin crew managers who reported directly to senior manager xx. In a conversation with one of them I learnt she calls the shots with regards to the outcome of disciplinary hearings. Apparently it’s not in anyone’s interest to go against what she wants.

The other ex cabin crew manager also didn’t have a good word to say about her. She told me she could “tell me stories that would make my hair stand on end.” Sadly I heard similar comments from so many past and present employees.

I was told by one of those cabin crew managers that evidence in a case they were dealing with was very flimsy yet senior manager xx said she wanted the grievance to be upheld. She also said she wanted the person to be dismissed. The manager dealing with the case refused which didn’t go in her favour.

Even though I didn’t know this crew manager particularly well, I was surprised when I heard they were no longer with the company (they were made redundant some years ago). They were very popular and nobody had a bad word to say about them.

Don’t forget even before senior manager xx heard my appeal in regards to the grievance that had been upheld for bullying, harassment and inappropriate touching, she instructed a second disciplinary investigation to be initiated against me.

I was told from the start that if upheld I would receive a second final written warning. Senior manager xx would have been aware that would lead to me being dismissed.

Although the grievance was upheld, the hearing manager downgraded it to a written warning and stated she didn’t deem it appropriate for me to be dismissed over the matter.

It should also be remembered I was on long term sick at the time that grievance was carried out.

Just a few weeks later when redundancies were announced following the outbreak of Covid-19, I was told I was being made redundant.

The following comes from Virgin Atlantic’s policy manual in the section regarding disciplinaries;


From Virgin Atlantic’s policy manual regarding disciplinaries

I had been told what senior manager xx was like to work under by two previous crew managers. Even so, I didn’t understand why she wanted me out the company. I thought I had discovered the reason but realised shortly afterwards, it wasn’t the reason.

Senior manager xx was fully aware of what I had been dealing with in my personal life well before the first grievance matter was raised. She was also aware of my struggles with depression whilst having to fight the grievance raised by Bart. Even with that knowledge she requested the second grievance matter which I’ll share in the next chapter of my blog, to be dealt with in a way that would ensure I could be dismissed if upheld.

During the appeal meeting with her I asked whether she knew how many men of my age commit suicide each year because of depression. The comment was omitted from detailed minutes taken from the very start of the meeting.

The following screenshots all come from different pages of evidence I submitted to Virgin Atlantic as part of my evidence.


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With my flight to Atlanta in 2018 being over Christmas, I wanted to make it a little bit special.

Despite my dad being extremely poorly and in the last days of his life, I still thought about the crew I was about to fly with. I had only flown with one of them previously and didn’t know anyone else.

I turned up with a large box of chocolates and 6 boxes of Marks and Spencer luxury mince pies. Thanks to icloud I have a photo of the chocolates because I asked my partner whether they would be okay. He said I was bonkers spending so much money and should have gone to Lidl. I spent almost £40.


large box of guylian chocolates


The outbound sector of our flight to Atlanta on 24th December was very quiet. The Economy cabin had 233 seats, we had 164 passengers. Premium had 38 seats and there were 32 passengers. The Upper Class cabin had 45 seats and we had 20 passengers.

We took off 22 minutes late at 09:47, the flight time was 8 hours 40. Due to the flight being so quiet I was able to give the cabin crew a two hour rest break in the bunks. I didn’t take a break because I had two crew working up in supervisory roles, one was on his first working flight back and six had been with Virgin Atlantic for less than 12 months.

For that reason I didn’t feel comfortable being away from the cabin for two hours and wouldn’t have slept anyway. Between services I spent my time chatting with different crew members and customers. I also did a mid-flight drinks service in Economy with crew member Mia.


virgin atlantic premium cabin
Virgin Atlantic Premium Cabin on the A340-600


You’ll notice from the following screenshot that during the flight I was in Economy talking to customers when the seat belt signs were turned on for turbulence.

You’ll also notice crew member T had no observations about my on-board announcements. Bear in mind he worked up as Cabin Service Supervisor in the Economy cabin. He would have been been sat in his jumpseat on both the outbound and inbound sector whilst I made the after take-off welcome announcement and the after landing announcement. I also made other announcements during the flight. He then says he was aware a few crew members commented about them not sounding particularly professional.

Crew members Peter, Ven, Bart and Anna criticised the nature of my announcements. As you will have seen from evidence included in my blog so far, not much of what these four individuals says is reliable or honest.

You would have thought having been told by “a few crew members” my announcements didn’t sound “particularly professional”, T would have some recollection of them.


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From witness statement of T


We arrived into Atlanta 55 minutes early at 13:24 local time. It took about twenty minutes to drive to the hotel. Mia and Peter had companions with them and everyone was looking forward to the evening ahead.

Virgin Atlantic had asked the hotel to lay on a buffet dinner for us that evening with an open bar. It was 2:30pm and we arranged to meet in the restaurant at 6pm.

In his grievance Bart told more abhorrent lies about my apparent behaviour whilst in Atlanta as did his fiancee Anna. It began with a comment they alleged I made whilst in the hotel lobby after we arrived.

In her witness statement crew member Mia tried to support the allegation but got confused about what she was supposed to say. Bart, Anna and Mia all wrote completely different versions of what supposedly took place.

It didn’t make any difference because all three managers who investigated the case believed their version of events. Needless to say, nobody else on the crew had any recollection of this alleged incident.

I’ll return to this matter later in the blog. For now I want to go back to my pre flight briefing prior to leaving London Heathrow.


Bart had complained about several aspects of my briefing as did Anna in her witness statement.

The following comes from Peter’s witness statement;


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From Peter’s witness statement. Time with Virgin Atlantic 6 months. Never flew previously.

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Taken from evidence I supplied to the company


Ven is the person who was called out as CSS (Cabin Service Supervisor). For reasons already explained, I put him at the front of the aircraft working in Premium, not at the back. Clearly he spoke to Peter about not being allowed to work up.

Remember the only two people to accuse me of disappearing from the cabin despite working at opposite ends of the aircraft, were Ven and Peter. They’re the guys who had their arms around each other in the photo taken prior to leaving the hotel.

I was only told as I left the cabin crew check-in area for the aircraft that someone had been called out. By that time I was comfortable with T and Katrina working up and didn’t want to start changing working positions around.

Having spoken to Ven as soon as he boarded about not working up, he repeated multiple times that he didn’t mind where he worked. He seemed liked a nice guy and I was happy to have someone else with experience on the crew.

Peter says I “chose” Katrina to work up and makes a point of saying she was one of the least senior onboard. In fact he was the least senior onboard. It should be remembered that a cabin crew manager approached me to suggest Katrina may be suitable to work up.

Having explained my reasons during the grievance investigation meeting for asking her to work up on the flight, I was asked a series of questions.

The line of questioning was when did I allocate working positions, how long before the pre-flight briefing were they entered into my company iPad and who would I have asked to work up had I not asked T and Katrina.

The reason for asking was because in his grievance Bart complained he wasn’t given the opportunity to work up. He also accused me of not entering working positions into my iPad (I’ll explain that in a moment).

Take a look at this which comes from Ven’s witness statement. It shows again that he was disgruntled at not being allowed to work up as Cabin Service Supervisor;


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From Ven’s witness statement.

The reason his iPad would still have shown him as working up as CSS is because that’s the position he was called out for by the crew control department. That wouldn’t change even if the FSM allocates him a different working position which I did.

He states having looked at his iPad he could see he had been allocated CM7 although it still showed him working up. The fact that he could see that confirms I had entered positions into my iPad.

The Flight Service Manager is responsible for allocating working positions, not the crew control department. They would have told him he was required to work up because when they called him from standby, they would have seen the flight was missing two CSS’s.

Clearly Ven doesn’t understand how the system works. I believe as you’ll see in a moment, that he told Bart or Anna I didn’t enter positions into my iPad. None of them understood how the system worked.

The following comes from Bart’s grievance. The black text is from the performance review I wrote on him. The blue and green is his response;


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Without going into more detail than necessary, cabin crew working positions have to be entered into the company iPad in order for the pre-flight briefing to proceed. They also have to be entered so the FSM and CSS’s can complete mandatory performance monitoring on the cabin crew. The cabin crew also have to complete upward feedback on the CSS’s and FSM. If working positions are not entered, none of that will be possible.

The following comes from Anna’s witness statement, Bart’s fiancee. She had been with Virgin Atlantic for less than twelve months.


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JR90 indicates a crew member has been with the company for less than eighteen months.

Claire who was working in Upper Class did upward feedback on me. Scores used to be out of 10 but are now out of 5. She scored me 5 out of 5.

Take a look at the link above to see what she wrote. The comment below her review is from the witness statement of Katrina. In Ven’s witness statement he said “she was given no support by Laurence“. “She” refers to Katrina.

The following screenshot comes from minutes taken during the meeting between Bart and cabin crew manager Lana. She met with him as part of the grievance investigation. The fact he received 10’s on both sectors confirms positions were entered into my iPad.

Katrina who had been with Virgin Atlantic for just a couple of months longer than him and who was working up, completed his performance scores. This was discussed in depth with senior manager xx during my appeal meeting.

Crew manager Lana told me during my initial meeting which took place after she had met with Bart, that having explained to him how the system works, this complaint was removed.

In Anna’s witness statement which would have been written several weeks later, she still accuses me of not entering working positions into my iPad.

Despite their inflammatory remarks, collusion and blatant lies, three managers were still happy to believe their version of events over mine. Senior manager xx also said in the outcome to my appeal, she “could find no evidence of collusion”.


I accuse Anna of being a prolific liar throughout my blog because I have more than enough evidence to prove it. Seemingly lying comes naturally to her. The following two screenshots which I included as part of my evidence, come from her Facebook page.

I have of course changed their names.


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I wonder whether she lied when she applied for her new job?


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From the FB page of the delightful Anna


The following comes from Ven’s witness statement. It has always been Virgin Atlantic company policy that working positions be allocated by the FSM. With that said, most FSM’s allow the crew to choose where they would like to work.


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From Ven’s witness statement

During the first grievance investigative meeting with crew manager Lana and the second meeting with crew manager Hayley, minutes were taken by the same Employee Relations Consultant. As well as taking minutes, his purpose for being there was to ensure procedures were followed correctly.

During the first meeting he was vocal throughout which made the meeting even more stressful. It felt like I was being interrogated by two people. In the second meeting he led the meeting and continuously guided crew manager Hayley. It was her first grievance meeting at Virgin Atlantic and she didn’t have a clue what she was doing.

In all other meetings I attended the Employee Relations Consultant spoke very little. The minutes they took were clear and concise. The minutes taken by Pedro (not his real name) were anything but.

Had he spent more time taking minutes and less time trying to take the meeting, things may well have been different. According to his LinkedIn profile he’s a qualified solicitor in employment law.

After being sent his minutes for approval, despite struggling to understand what he was talking about, numerous corrections had to be made.


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Minutes taken by the Employee Relations Consultant with my corrections


4 thoughts on “30 Years at Virgin Atlantic | The Ugly Truth – Part 3

  1. Ahhh thank you Justine. We flew together many times and I always remember your smile. I met so many amazing people during my time with Virgin Atlantic and you were definitely one of them. It really was the best job in the world.

    The company has certainly changed but so has the world we live in.

    Thank you for your lovely words, they mean a great deal to me.

    x

    Like

  2. I always loved flying with you Laurence , im sorry you have gone through this after so many years working for VA with an unblemished working record .. you were always the name on the check in sheet to bring a smile to the crew that it was going to be a fun flight ! Big hugs J xx

    Like

  3. Thank you Donna for your kind words. It’s been a tough couple of years and what I had to deal with has certainly taken its toll. Life goes on and I am trying hard to get back on track. Sadly it doesn’t leave me with very good memories of my time at Virgin Atlantic.

    I had twenty eight amazing years and two terrible ones. In time I’ll hopefully forget about the last two and remember the previous twenty eight.

    I hope life is treating you well.

    Like

  4. Hi Lawrence, I have just managed to read all you have written and I feel sad to hear what a horrible time you had, I worked with you on numerous flights, I was crew from 1996 to 2010 , I was always happy to see your name on the list and always remember you to be fun, approachable and professional, I was actually shocked to read this and the terrible things said about you, I wish all the best for the future and hope you can find some peace after all this

    Liked by 1 person

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