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Former Virgin Atlantic Flight Attendant Accuses Airline of Using Them as a ‘Show Pony’ After They Led Campaign For Gender Neutral Uniforms

Former Virgin Atlantic Flight Attendant Accuses Airline of Using Them as a ‘Show Pony’ After They Led Campaign For Gender Neutral Uniforms

A former Virgin Atlantic flight attendant has accused the airline of using them as a “show pony” after they led a campaign to get the airline to ditch traditional gender-based uniforms. But Jaianni Olivier Russo spectacularly quit their dream job last week after accusing the airline of trying to “capitalise” on its new gender identity policy.

Virgin Atlantic brought in a bevy of celebrities including RuPaul’s Drag Race and Strictly Come Dancing star Michaelle Visage last week to help promote the new policy. The headline change allows employees to pick whichever uniform they feel best represents them regardless of their gender, gender identity, or gender expression.

Traditionally, Virgin Atlantic’s uniforms were divided by gender and up until recently female cabin crew had to wear a skirt. But last week, the airline said uniforms would no longer be gendered and will simply be known as the ‘burgundy’ and ‘red’ uniforms.

The burgundy uniform is made up of a three-piece suit and was traditionally gendered as male, while the red Vivienne West-designed uniform kit comprises a red pencil skirt and bright red jacket with nipped in waist.

Jaianni, who was born a male, says they spearheaded a campaign to convince Virgin Atlantic to change its gender identity policy after they first asked permission to wear elements of what was then known as the female uniform back in 2020.

At the time, Jaianni says the airline didn’t seem very receptive and told them they would have to wear the male uniform. The airline did, however, say it might consider a change at some point in the future.

Shortly afterwards, Jaianni was made redundant as a result of the pandemic but when they returned they again started campaigning for the right to wear the ‘red’ uniform and this time around managers were much more open about the idea, Jaianni claims.

“I was the person to start this huge change,” Jaianni says in a Facebook post entitled ‘Virgin Atlantic exposed’.

“I started to do different things including a red talk with the company to educate people about non-binary and who we are and why we need to be acknowledged and represented and seen,” the post continues.

After “many months” and lots of back and forth, Jaianni says the new policy was agreed and to help launch it Jaianni claims the airline told them that they would be a “major part” of a promotional campaign as they “had started this whole process off”.

But after a long day of filming, Jaianni says they had a different opinion of what Virgin Atlantic was doing.

“My problem is that I started this whole process for a company to take my idea and CAPITALISE on it when they don’t actually authentically care about their staff and our background of what non-binary means,” Jaianni says in their Facebook post.

“My problem is that without me this whole process wouldn’t of started when it did and they don’t even want to recognise me or care about me.”

When the social media campaign was finally unveiled last week, Jaianni realised they had been completely “erased” from the final commercial.

“Not one bit of me is in this commercial the one person who started this whole change and process off,” Jaianni continues.

“I have spent my entire time at Virgin Atlantic fighting for change… THIS COMPANY had just disregarded me as if I meant absolutely nothing. It’s worth mentioning that SAID COMPANY (Virgin Atlantic) didn’t even have the policy ready when they launched the commercial which is an absolute joke!”

After learning that they had been cut from the campaign, Jaianni reportedly quit the airline.

But a spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic says it was impossible to include everyone who took part in the finished campaign after capturing hours of footage that had to be condensed into a 60-second video.

“This initiative champions the individuality of all our amazing people by allowing them to truly be themselves when they come to work,” the airline told us in an emailed statement.

“With all filming projects, filming takes place over many hours and footage has to be edited down to just sixty seconds, so unfortunately not everything that is captured on the day can be shown.”

Also cut from the final commercial was Virgin Atlantic’s chief people officer, Estelle Hollingsworth who also championed the gender identity policy change.

View Comments (32)
  • I assume that everyone involved in creating the commercial was paid for their time. To the best of my knowledge, there is no guarantee that everyone involved in a video advertisement as an actor will actually appear in the final product.

    For example, a person who is an “extra” in a Hollywood movie will be paid for their time spent on set. However, I do not believe that there is a guarantee that they will appear in the final movie shown in theaters.

  • It’s always interesting when non-significant individuals think they’re more significant than everyone else and just complain about everything and anything.
    This new policy is a publicity stunt anyway and airline business is not as classy as it used to be, anyway.

    • The one(s) who STARTED IT ALL, is definitely NOT non-significant. You left out that part of your screed, Bb Tt. The intense jealousy that you obviously carry against the one with such a clever idea, is obvious in every ill-chosen word of your pathetic above screed.

    • Article makes absolutely no sense as written. Couldn’t finish it. And that guy is a show pony

    • It’s actually super easy to use “they” as a singular and requires VERY little cognitive power to accomplish. Good luck in 1st grade! ❤️

  • You quit your dream job over this? This is such a millennial thing. Companies don’t care about you! They care about money. And how were you a “show pony” if you weren’t shown? They erased you, you said.

    This whole thing is silly anyway. If gender and everything is a “construct” these days, why does a dress matter, if that puts you back in a box of being “female” when you’re a male wanting to wear a dress? Sounds like you’re just jumping from one construct to another.

    • As a customer, I don’t want to be served by these freaks but you’re stuck with them doing their job on the plane.
      I mean I have to tolerate it but I don’t agree with it or like it.

      The employer is in charge of the business. If ANY employee doesn’t like the rules then they need to quit and move on.

    • Yes! He makes himself into a show pony, then got mad they didn’t use him in a commercial, so he blames them for making him a show pony!? This is just silliness.

  • Welcome to the corporate world. My electrical engineer uncle worked for an electronics firm and was told that an invention he created on his own time belonged to them. The company got the patent. He got no credit for his creation. It was the old Cold War era: ” You’re lucky to have us as your employer.” corporate attitude . That attitude hasn’t changed much.

  • I demand “equality”!
    Now that I have it, I’m not going to be grateful, I’m just going to find something wrong with how you did it!
    What a piece of worthless trash…

  • Bigot moderators won’t let the straight, white, man comment, it might offend one of these adults 🥲

    • The term “adult” should be reserved for mature individuals, this they isn’t even at the maturity of a 13 year old so definitely a long way to go for them they it to be an adult

  • We all knew it was virtue signaling so why was this a surprise. It’s all so ludicrous anyway.

  • “Used” as a show pony… By not being shown. Sounds more like a narcissist being denied the spotlight. You’re not special just you’re non-binary. Congrats on getting the change you worked for and wanted. But sounds like that’s not what you actually wanted most.

    • Congrats, you spotted the narcissist!

      Narcissist’s tantrums are hilarious to witness (from a distance) and almost always reveals the narcissist for what they are.

  • Sounds like the only reason this kid even applied for this job was so he can do some activism garbage, and feel special for it. 🙄
    As a Transwoman myself, I know so many self-centered, narcissistic, crybaby wannabes that want to throw temper tantrums when they don’t get all the attention and they don’t get their way! This “Person” is definitely one of those crybaby wannabes! Sherry spends most of his day making TikTok videos about how everyone is transphobic towards him when really he’s not even trans! 🤦‍♀️ It’s dudes like this that make ALL OF US look bad!!! 😒

  • They really are an extreme narcissist. There are 70,000 employees
    at Virgin in 35 counties and they act like the company revolves around it.
    It’s common sense that a company that makes changes will promote and advertise those changes. It’s a business, not a local book club.

  • OK diva, anything going to make you happy? If that was your dream job and you left it because they didn’t give you your 3 seconds of glory…Just wow!! I don’t know how i always get wrapped up in reading this crap, all it does is make me mad. I’m assuming this “them” is probably under 25 and has never done any manual labor.
    By the way to the author of this column, believe me don’t i know this is all new and completely ridiculous but your pronouns were not consistent. You referred to them as a “them” and then a “he” better get it right or it will be coming after you next.

  • Once I figured out that you were referring to the individual as “they” I stopped reading. Sorry, I’m not playing along with that nonsense.

  • I’m all for equal rights, but this article honestly confused me. 😅 This person gets what they want and still pitches a fit about it? I’m not really sure what a non-binary outfit would look like without some hint of gender to it so no matter what they do, it’ll never be good enough in this persons eyes.

  • Get a real life, dude in drag and so called show pony! It’s no longer all about you. Actually, it never was. It’s been in your head and no where else, the whole time!

  • These woke individuals are just trying to get attention and think everyone else is on earth to validate who they are. The woke need to wake up and realize that no one gives a crap about who anyone is or going to validate them no matter if a person is part of the woke crowd or not. None of us are that important to people outside of our own little circles of friends and family. The corporate world sure doesn’t care about their employees. We are all just numbers paid to do a job. The owe us nothing and to think they do is just pure foolishness. Find validation in your own self and stop worrying about the rest of society.