Flying flowers for Valentine’s Day

By: Virgin Atlantic

February 12, 2021

Being romantic across the Atlantic!

Our cargo warehouse at Heathrow smells gorgeous at this time of year. We’re not talking about all the fresh salmon that we fly in from Norway, rather tonnes of cut flowers, heading out across the world, ready to express undying love.  You see lockdown has done nothing to quash the romance of Valentine’s day or the joy of giving and receiving flowers, which is why our cargo team are flying record amounts of cut flowers from Europe to the UK and on to the USA.

Fresh cut flowers on their way, to candlelit dinners in the USA

Making sure the flowers arrive at their destination fresh and valentines ready is a team effort beginning with the growers who chill the flowers as soon as they’re picked. Maintaining the flowers at these temperatures, typically around two to five degrees, is the secret to keeping them fresh and lovely. From the growers to their eventual destinations across the globe speed is of the essence. For our part, it’s imperative that they travel as planned and that they are always placed in a chiller whilst on the ground to maintain their quality, so they are perfect on arrival  at their final destination.

Each type of flower requires its own special shipping conditions and careful packing instructions. In these colder winter conditions protective plastic thermal packaging is needed.. Some types of flowers are even vacuum cooled in advance, with holes in boxes to allow them to breathe. Most flowers don’t need to drink during the journey as the temperature is far more critical. The exception are Orchids which require a small, sealed tube of water to stay at their most beautiful.

Holly Tongue

“It’s great to be involved in the shipping of this ‘feel-good’ commodity, knowing these flowers will put a smile on the faces of people around the world not only on Valentine’s day but all year round,” said Holly Tongue, cargo regional sales manager (favourite flower peonies). “Our team work closely with our customers and our cargo operations team to understand the shipping requirements of the flowers so we can tailor our service accordingly”.

In the last week alone we’ve flown over tonnes of roses, orchids, tulips, carnations, astrantia and astilbe, more than double the weekly average for our cargo operation.  These flowers typically end up in the florists and supermarkets of New York and Los Angeles, so fresh that they will bloom for up to two weeks.

There are many reasons why people buy flowers. To declare undying love, to show compassion or even to say sorry. The fragrance, colours, and freshness of cut flowers always have a positive impact on anyone receiving them. Making sure those flowers arrive fresh and beautiful, ready to brighten up someone’s day, is a responsibility our cargo team take very seriously. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic

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Categories: Our People