Monday, 28 Nov 2022

Richard Branson will stop turning girls upside down on Virgin planes

Richard Branson will stop turning girls upside down on Virgin planes


Richard Branson will stop turning girls upside down on Virgin planes

In the clearest sign yet of aviation's changing culture, the Virgin Atlantic owner Sir Richard Branson has said he will almost certainly no longer be "turning girls upside down", signalling an end to a long-established fixture of the airline's flight promotion.

Branson, who turned 72 in July, said he still remained physically capable of "picking up ladies" - traditionally along the wing of a landed Virgin jumbo jet - but that "times have moved on".

In Tampa, Florida, to promote the first direct service from Heathrow, the entrepreneur jetskied across the bay alone, admitting to onlookers that once he would have had someone behind him for the ride.

The razzmatazz around Branson's appearance at Tampa International airport on Thursday, standing on the steps of the arriving Virgin Atlantic plane and in a Tampa Bay Buccaneers American football shirt, remained low-key compared to the sexed-up appearances of old.

In 2005, in one of his most tabloid-friendly promotional stunts, Branson carried and upended an underdressed Pamela Anderson on the wing of a Virgin jumbo at New York's JFK airport.

Others who donned the regulation red skimpy attire and high heels to strike acrobatic poses with Branson at airports include the British supermodel Kate Moss, brandished aloft by the billionaire at Heathrow in 2009. Another famous "wing walk" saw Branson, then 59, carry the burlesque star Dita Von Teese across a Virgin jumbo in Las Vegas in 2010.

He said such feats now belonged in the past. "There's no question that in the early days of Virgin, society was very different. I doubt you'll see me turning girls upside down or picking up ladies today, whereas 38 years ago if I didn't do that, I wouldn't get in a newspaper."

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