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Life on camera: Meet the stars of Up in the Air

By: Maxine Sheppard

July 21, 2015

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Virgin Atlantic: Up in the Air is a new ITV1 documentary series which goes behind the scenes to capture the spirit and adventures of our teams around the world. With exclusive access to our people at all different levels of the business, the show shines a light on a variety of different roles and projects, from the day-to-day running of our Heathrow Clubhouse to the arrival of our long-awaited first Dreamliner.

In the first episode we found out just what it takes to become a member of our cabin crew, with a revealing look at the gruelling weeks of training before our new recruits can pick up their ‘Wings’. We also followed Design Manager Nik Lusardi on a rather unusual shopping trip, as he made some final tweaks to our new aircraft’s Upper Class seating and snazzy soft-close loos.

The service

In episode two, Duty Manager Camilla is looking after the Upper Class passengers in our award-winning Clubhouse and anticipating their every need. “We have a department that looks after our Top 50 flyers,” she explains. “We know who they are, we know what they like to eat, drink, where they like to sit – all their preferences.”

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Duty Manager Camilla in the Heathrow Clubhouse

“I’ve been working at the Clubhouse since it opened 12 years ago and was in the old one before that. I love my job. I love the people I work with and the challenges we face. Every day is different. I love the customer facing aspects of the role and making sure all situations are dealt with for our customers, whatever they might be.”

The aircraft

Time is of the essence for Nik, who’s counting down the days until the Dreamliner takes off from the Boeing factory in Seattle for a new life at Virgin Atlantic. Meanwhile, his plywood replica holds the key to wowing our passengers from the first moment they step on board, and a top priority is the mood lighting for the new fleet. It’s taken a sizable budget and three long years of planning to reach this point, so it’s essential everything is perfect.

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Design Manager Nik Lusardi

“People are essentially flying in a plastic tube, so we have to do all that we can to change the environment, and make people step away from the feeling that they’re confined in this small space,” Nik says. “At the end of the day the most important thing is to give our customers the best experience and sometimes you have to spend money to do that. If it wasn’t for that, then we’d just be another airline.”

The CEO

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Virgin Atlantic and Delta crew members at the New York Stock Exchange

It’s a busy day for our new chief executive Craig Kreeger who is flying to New York to officially announce our partnership with Delta Air Lines at the New York Stock Exchange. The day kicks off at a co-branded space outside the historic building so members of the public can find out more, and ends with some of our crew members ringing the closing bell on the famous trading floor, watched by more than 120 million viewers on TV.

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Chief Executive Officer Craig Kreeger

But for airline industry veteran Craig, the focus is entirely on Virgin Atlantic’s future path. “The mission statement is very clear,” he says. “It is to continue to do the things that Virgin does best. I’m very focused on trying to ensure that our customers continue to have the same experience they’ve had all along, which makes them feel cool about themselves.”

The experience

Reuben Arnold was also filmed going about his role for several months and makes an appearance in tonight’s final episode. As Senior Vice President of Marketing and Customer Experience, he’s responsible for everything to do with how the airline looks and feels, which could be anything from selecting the onboard champagne to overseeing our latest TV advertising campaign.

“When they started, I was very conscious of the film crew being there for the first week or so,” he recalls. “But they very quickly put us at ease. In the end, you just forgot they were there; they were just in the background watching what we did. Their intention was never to film anything that was staged or created for them, but just to observe us going about our daily activity.

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Reuben Arnold, our Senior Vice President of Marketing and Customer Experience

“I’m looking forward to seeing the final programme, though until then you just don’t know how you’ll be portrayed. But I think this is great for us and I hope the programme will give a really good view of what makes us different, and shows that everyone who works here is passionate about what they do and that we have fun doing it.”

Tune in to ITV1 tonight at 9pm to watch the third and final episode of Up in the Air, and don’t forget to visit our dedicated Careers website for details of all our latest opportunities.

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.

Categories: Our People