30 Year Journey: Virgin Atlantic has obviously changed. Then again, it hasn’t

By: Maxine Sheppard

July 1, 2014

IT Business Partner Gary Chandler looks back over a life-changing 30 year career…

The Virgin life

Back in 1984, I was already working in the airline industry with a US airline. Then I learned that a new British airline was starting up and, even better from my point of view, in the south east. It was a great opportunity to explore new options from a career perspective. I also thought, Virgin – that means music. I was seriously into my music, still am, and I thought I’d get a cheap vinyl or two. (CDs? They hadn’t been invented back then!) Needless to say, I’m still waiting for the discounts.

Joking aside, I felt really privileged to have flown on the early inaugural flights and over the years I’ve travelled to so many wonderful destinations. Of course, the airline industry has changed over the decades and Virgin Atlantic with it. The awful events of 9/11 changed the whole dynamics of the business. And, indeed, the years since then have seen several external factors challenging the very fabric of airlines and travel.

But a lot of things have remained constant. Richard Branson still has a beard. And he still loves wearing jumpers. Virgin Atlantic is still the brave, fun airline it’s always been. The airline that has never been afraid to challenge the conventional. The airline that has retained a certain sexiness (and I’m not referring to the red shoes here).

I’ve worked with some great people over the years and I still do. We work hard, the job can be challenging, don’t get me wrong, but we also have a lot of fun. The typical Virgin person is grounded, honest and passionate about what they do. People can set themselves goals, they genuinely enjoy their work and the job satisfaction here is immense.

Happy days

Looking back, there are so many things I could talk about. There have been so many funny moments – not least, being refused entrance to a gay bar at a colleague’s leaving do recently. But the best moment? I’d have to say, if only in the interests of a quiet life at home, meeting my wife through work. Doing the jobs we do, we were able to fly to Bermuda for our wedding. It’s a truly beautiful island and the most idyllic location to get married. Happy days, and there have been so many of them over the last 30 years.

Gary Chandler

1984: Thought being part of Virgin would get him cheap vinyl records.

2014: Still waiting and downloading his own music.

Find out more about our culture on the Virgin Atlantic careers website


Maxine Sheppard

Maxine is the co-editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.