Press Centre

Virgin Atlantic: Up in the Air

  • Episode: 

    1 of 3

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Tue 07 Jul 2015
  • TX Confirmed: 

    Yes
  • Time: 

    9.00pm - 10.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 28 2015 : Sat 04 Jul - Fri 10 Jul
  • Channel: 

    ITV
  • Status: 

    New
The information contained herein is strictly embargoed from all press, online and social media use, non-commercial publication, or syndication until Tuesday 30th June 2015.
 
“We’ve lost quite a lot of money. Where’s it gone? (laughs) But we hope to get it back.” Richard Branson
 
Virgin Atlantic: Up in the Air is a new documentary series which goes behind the scenes of the colourful airline in its turbulent 30th year in business. With full and exclusive access, the series follows staff at all different levels of the business, from Richard Branson, and the Chief Exec to new cabin crew recruits and the boys in the warehouse, as the company rolls out a new plane, new uniforms and new people – and tries to get back in the black.
 
In episode one we meet the team at the Virgin Atlantic base in Crawley, preparing for the airline's 30th birthday event. Richard Branson, who founded the airline when he was just 34, is making a rare appearance.
 
Although the airline is celebrating its staying power in a notoriously fickle business, times have been hard recently, with finances up and down and often millions in the red. Whilst he hasn’t been involved in the day to day running of the airline for more than ten years, Richard Branson is still the face of the brand. He says: “Fortunately, I’ve been in the airline business long enough to know that you have tough years and good years. (We’ll still be around in 30 years) as long as we keep reinventing ourselves and keep ahead of the crowd.”
 
With a small fleet of 38, some of Virgin’s planes have been in service for around 20 years. The airline is hoping that its route back into profit lies in their five billion pound investment of new fuel efficient Dreamliner planes, which will eventually replace half its existing fleet of older gas guzzlers.
 
Certifying Engineer Paul, says: “This (plane’s) design is 1980s, over 25 years old. So the computing power in your smart phone is easily a match for this. If you can keep your aircraft age young, then you can always stay in the game.”
 
The first Dreamliner is on the production line and Customer Experience Design Manager Nik Lusardi is off on an unusual shopping trip to the Boeing factory in the States, where he will select passenger seats and most importantly - the swanky cabin loo. The pressure is on to get Nik's upper class seats, which cost around £100,000 each, tweaked, tested and fitted into the Dreamliner in time.  
 
After a recruitment freeze of two years, Virgin is finally hiring cabin crew again, and over 2000 people apply for a job in just 48 hours. Jonathan, part of the Cabin Crew Recruitment team, says: “The golden question, ‘What are we looking for?’ I guess it’s that natural enthusiasm, that natural warmth and friendliness. I’ve always said, you’re either naturally a Virgin Atlantic Crew Member or… maybe it’s not for you.”
 
The modest £12,500 starting salary hasn't put off 58-year-old grandmother Katrine, who is hoping to fulfill her life long dream to become a 'trolley dolly'. Katrine says: “It’s what I’ve been wanting to do for 25-30 years, and I feel the time is right. That’s why I haven’t gone for it before, I had young children so I couldn’t give 110% to the role at the time. It’s time for me now… touch wood!”
 
We follow the new recruits through training, styling and their eventful first flights to Cancun and Dubai. With delays, turbulence and passenger sickness, will their training have equipped the fledgling cabin crew with everything they need to make their first flights a success?