As we look towards the 52nd anniversary of the first Pride March in New York, a seismic shift in our society is visible, as the queer community finds more love and acceptance than ever before. The aviation industry is no stranger to this shift, as many airlines have woken up to the truth about the LGBTQ+ community and their love to travel (I mean, who doesn’t like to travel! ), turning many airlines into their allies. We look at some of the most heart-touching stories and events from airlines across the globe that pave the way for an industry-wide acceptance of the pride colors and spread positivity and equity amongst their rainbow brethren.
Fun Fact: The LGBTQ+ community generates more than 10% of the travel and airline industry revenue.
Flying with Pride
On a hot summer day, in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, members of the New York City Police Department’s Public Morals Squad raided the Stonewall Inn, a bar located in New York City’s Greenwich Village that served as a haven for the city’s gay, lesbian and transgender community. While raids on gay bars were common, the Stonewall raid sparked a resistance that would go on to inspire every initiative in the aid of the LGBT Community.
In the early 1990s, American Airlines LGBTQ team members began establishing the company’s first employee business resource group. At the same time, a handful of pilots — identifiable only by aviation-themed T-shirts — gathered in Provincetown, Massachusetts, to form the National Gay Pilots Association (NGPA). Today, NGPA is the world’s largest organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender aviation professionals and enthusiasts worldwide with the mission to build, support, and unite the LGBTQ+ aviation community around the globe.
On June 28, 2019, American Airlines had organized a memorable Pride Fight piloted by David with an all LGBTQ+ fight crew to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.
SAS(Scandinavian Airlines) becomes the first airline to host a same-sex in-flight marriage in 2010.
This surely gave a new meaning to the phrase “Walking down the aisle”. And there were not just one, but two marriage ceremonies.
A Gay couple Aleksandar Mijatovic and Shantu Bhattacherjee, from Germany and a Lesbian couple Ewa Tomaszewicz and Gosia Rawińska, from Poland.The ceremony took place in Flight SAS SK903 while it was in the Swedish airspace. At the time, same-sex marriages were legal in Sweden since 2009 and same-sex couples may enter registered partnerships in Germany but this wasn’t legalized in Poland.
This ceremony was a small victory for everyone who believed that one day Poland would change its laws and let everyone who loves each other get married without facing dissent from authorities.
Sadly, even after 11 years of this event, in 2021, Same-Sex marriage is still not legal in Poland, and we strongly support the activists fighting for the rights they genuinely deserve.
Virgin Australia’s Pride Flight
Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, is an ally to the LGBTQ+ Community, and the same reflects through the work done by the airlines.
Virgin Australia started a yearly event called the “Pride Flight”, which is handled entirely by Queer Pilots and cabin crew to celebrate and show their support to the community in 2019.
They took this to incredible new heights this year with its Pride Flight which flew from Brisbane to Sydney on 5 March 2021. The all-inclusive, COVID-safe flight included mid-air drag performances, bottomless beverages, DJ entertainment, and everything you’d expect at a Pride celebration — rainbows, glitter, and a whole lot of fabulous!
The flight passengers were surprised by Gay couple Chris and Cedric’s mid-air marriage proposal, and it is one of the most wholesome videos you’ll ever watch online.
The video and Richard Branson’s blog about creating an all-inclusive world have been linked below in references.
Air New Zealand’s gay-themed “Pink Flight” for Mardi Gras
Air New Zealand won the hearts of the Queer Community with a special themed flight that featured drag queens, pink cocktails, and a cabaret performed by the flight crew.
The destination for the airline’s one-time “Pink Flight,” departed San Francisco International Airport on Feb. 26, 2007, was the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in Sydney, Australia, one of the world’s most well-attended gay events.
Before the flight, the crew put on pink feather boas and sang for its couple hundred passengers; even the pilot was wearing fairy wings when he got into the plane!
This pride month, let us take a moment to appreciate the efforts taken by airlines to make skies an all-inclusive space! Happy Pride Month!
Authors: Paras Mittal and Nanda Kumar
Editors: Rachit Gupta and Ishan Neogi
Get to know us more at:
- Gay couple’s surprise marriage proposal on Virgin Australia’s Pride Month — QNews, Youtube
- It’s A Sin: the lessons we can learn to create an inclusive world — Richard Branson, Virgin.com, 2nd February 2021
- American Airlines flight to commemorate 50th anniversary of Stonewall Riots.
- What Happened at the Stonewall Riots? A Timeline of the 1969 Uprising
- SAS Holds first Gay air wedding
- SAS FIRST AIRLINE IN THE WORLD TO CARRY OUT SAME-SEX WEDDING IN THE AIR
- Air New Zealand gay-themed San Francisco-Sydney flight for Mardi Gras
- The Gay-Friendliest Airlines in the Skies