Virgin Atlantic apologies to servicewoman made to change out of uniform before flight

Virgin Atlantic apologies to servicewoman made to change out of uniform before flight

Sir Richard Branson has apologised to a British servicewoman who was made to change out of her uniform before flying with Virgin Atlantic, in case it offended other passengers.

Sky News reports that Petty Officer Nicky Howse, who is a Royal Navy helicopter technician, was told she would not be allowed on the flight from Heathrow to Los Angeles unless she removed her combat fatigues and wore a sleep suit instead.

A security official and Virgin Atlantic staff incorrectly told Petty Officer Howse that the company did not allow military personnel to fly in uniform. However, Sir Richard insists that this was "a mistake".

He tweeted: "An airport security guard made a dreadful mistake in telling our staff a service woman could not wear her uniform on our flight.

"Our team made a mistake in following that advice. The @VirginAtlantic people involved are mortified and have apologised profusely."

Petty Officer Howse, 32, was travelling back to her deployment in America after returning home to Ipswich, Suffolk to attend her grandfather's funeral. She had worn her uniform without any problems on the Virgin flight from America to Britain the week before.

The Daily Mail reports that in an email sent to a civilian friend, Petty Office Howse wrote: "It was horrific. I was made to feel uncomfortable in my own country for wearing the uniform I wear to defend the place. It made me ashamed of my country that a British serviceman can't travel in uniform. I was so distressed."

She added: "I was basically told it was because 'We don't only fly British passengers' and told it was seen as a threat. They then said it was for my own safety to stop abuse."

A Virgin spokesman told Sky News: "Virgin Atlantic does not have a policy which prevents passengers travelling in uniform and we are pleased to welcome any military personnel on board our flights in uniform.

"This was a completely isolated case in which our staff were incorrectly advised by a security agent.

"We have made contact with the passenger in question to express our deep regret for any upset caused."

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