In 2010 two Formula 1 Race team owners made a bet between each other over who would finishing higher in the Constructors’ Championship. The two owners were Sir Richard Branson, owner of the Virgin Formula One Racing Team and Tony Fernandes, owner of the Lotus Racing Team. The two friends (Fernandez worked for Sir Richard as a financial controller in the 80s) both own and run airlines and they made a bet that would go to benefit charity. Unfortunately Sir Richard Lost.
What was the bet? The loser would need to work as a flight attendant on the others airline. Sir Richard’s airlines span the globe with Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America and Virgin Australia, while Tony Fernandez’s Asian Powerhouse, in the low cost market, Air Asia & Air Asia X.
The bet went a little bit further than that, they would have to do it in full uniform and not just any uniform. It would be in drag.
This is not the first time that Sir Richard has appeared in drag. At the launch of his, now defunct, Virgin Brides as well as Vie Home & Lingerie he also dressed as a woman.
Part of the bet also included that a portion of all ticket sales for the specially staffed flight would go to charity.
Recently, Sir Branson paid his debt on May 12th on on Air Asia X flight D7237 flying from Perth to Kuala Lumpur. Needless to say, it was a shock to many of the passengers on board.
The flight began with a lovely press conference, as you would expect with two very high profile CEOs. Sir Richard paraded around in hot red lipstick and the Air Asia X uniform (including red high heels).
Sir Richard is known for his media stunts and of course hammed it up for the crowd, strutting his stuff and parading about, posing for plenty of photos with the actual flight attendants.
During the flight Sir Richard was expected to pull his weight with the rest of the crew. He had been enlisted to perform the safety demonstration, deliver meals and chat with the passengers. There was one incident however where Sir Richard spilled a tray full of drinks onto the Air Asia CEO (intentionally of course).
“I’ve always said I am a man of my word and I am happy to have finally honoured the bet,” said Sir Richard. “If you say you are going to do something, you obviously have to stick to your word”
Upon arrival in Malaysia, Tony Fernandez got his revenge for the drink incident spraying Sir Richard with a bottle of Champagne and congratulating him on helping to raise almost $200,000AUD for the Australian Starlight Foundation. “I am a great believer about throwing myself into life and having a bit of fun and making sure everyone has a laugh” Said Sir Richard.
Thankfully Sir Richard is keeping his day job running the Virgin Group. At the end of the flight, Tony Fernandes fired Sir Richard surely making him the shortest serving Cabin Crew member for Air Asia X.
|This story written by…Malcolm Muir, Lead Correspondent. |
Mal is an Australian AvGeek now living and working in Seattle. With a passion for aircraft photography, traveling and the fun that combining the two can bring. Insights into the aviation world with a bit of a perspective thanks to working in the travel industry.