Meet Steve Moffatt – Virgin Atlantic’s first two million mile flyer

Steve Moffatt

Here at Virgin Atlantic, we’re proud to have so many customers who fly with us over and over again. There’s nothing more satisfying for us – and it can be seriously rewarding for you.

Flying with us is the fastest way to earn miles, and by joining our Flying Club you could soon be on your way to the holiday of a lifetime or money off your next flight. And who knows? If you stick with us, you might even rank alongside Steve Moffatt one day – a long-time, much-valued member who’s just reached a particularly notable milestone.

Steve Moffatt is a technology business expert and one of our most frequent flyers, and earlier this year he celebrated being the first Virgin Atlantic customer to chalk up an incredible two million flown miles. We recently caught up with Steve in our Heathrow Clubhouse before his regular flight to San Francisco and began by asking how he came to rack up so much time in the sky.

Steve with the San Francisco airport team

Steve with the San Francisco airport team (Left to right) – Nathalie DeGuzman, Carole Marcaletti and Malia Kaihea

A lifetime of flying

”It must have been a DC3, or perhaps a Vickers Viscount,” says Steve, pondering his first commercial flight. As a child, he lived on a Second World War training airfield in Alberta, Canada, where his father and colleagues flew Cessnas around the vast landscape selling agricultural equipment. Hooked on flying from an early age, his career has since taken him all over the world. It’s a good thing he seems to have aviation in his blood.

Graduating from St Andrew’s University with a PhD in physics, Steve is now a veteran of Silicon Valley, having spent 35 years at semiconductor equipment giant Applied Materials. Armed with an innovative mind, insatiable curiosity about the world around him, and a firm belief in plain old hard work, it’s no surprise to learn he’s also a prolific inventor, with 350 global patent filings to his name. And it doesn’t stop there. Outside of work, he’s an amateur painter of landscapes and a dedicated rhododendron-grower, as well as a classic car enthusiast, radio amateur and enjoys regular cycling. So how on earth has he managed to squeeze all those miles into such a full life?

The answer, it seems, lies in being an early adopter. Like so many of our customers, Steve has been with us from the very beginning – and if you count the miles he flew before becoming a member of our Flying Club, or Freeway as it was known then, it actually comes to a whole lot more than two million.

Steve with our San Francisco team where the in joke is that he has his very own chair in the lounge.

Steve with our San Francisco Clubhouse team where the in joke is that he has his very own chair in the lounge. Left to right Robert O Licea-Wheaton, Lily Xu, Eric Starks

Steve’s first encounter with Virgin Atlantic took place more than three decades ago, aboard the VS1 from Gatwick to Newark on the 24 June 1984. It happened to be only our third ever flight. Living in New York City for a while, he became a regular on those early transatlantic crossings, and as our route map grew, he embraced the new destinations – sometimes spending even more time on-board than the crew. “I also did some work in Tokyo and Boston and had flown those routes many times,” he recalls. “Once I flew London to Boston for an important meeting that got cancelled whilst I was in the air, and I was needed back for something else, so I walked off the plane straight to the Virgin Atlantic counter, picked up a boarding pass and flew back on the same plane around two hours later, in the same seat.”

These days he can often be found bound for Hong Kong, Shanghai and Asian destinations, but most regularly flies out of San Francisco. Over the years he’s got to know our San Francisco team really well, describing them as ‘enthusiastic’ and ‘exceptional’.

Although he travels in all three classes, Steve readily admits to being a huge advocate of ensuring that we sleep well on planes, and sometimes is fortunate enough to visit Clubhouse Lounges and the on-board Upper Class bar (although only for non-alcoholic drinks). He explains, busy people have time to chat informally to fellow travellers and simply relax a little. You never know whom you’re going to meet or what you’re going to learn.  So many fascinating people are there as fellow travellers!

proof of a lifetime flying Virgin Atlantic, Steve has a pen draw in his desk where he deposits some of the various pens accumulated on his flights.

Proof of a lifetime flying Virgin Atlantic, Steve has a pen draw in his desk where he deposits some of the various pens accumulated on his flights.

When it comes to our planes, just like almost everyone at the airline, Steve has a firm favourite aircraft: the Boeing 747. But it’s fair to say the 787 Dreamliner is winning him over. “It’s a very, very good plane, and I feel much better after flying in it; the higher pressure, the better humidity,” he says. “We still get time-based jet lag, but we don’t feel as dehydrated and quite so totally wrecked. It’s also quieter, and well designed for practical use. I admire the carbon tube; it’s a wonderful piece of engineering. The plane feels light, agile and tightly controlled by the computers.”

And as we waved Steve off onto the VS19 to San Francisco, it wasn’t too long before he was making use of that very plane’s advanced technology, sending emails via the onboard Wi-Fi and he let us know the crew were taking good care of him. Thanks for being such a loyal customer Steve – your place in the Virgin Atlantic story is now assured. Here’s to the next million miles!

Flying Club Fun Facts:

  • The first person to earn a million flown miles was Mr Benzion Leibovitz, he received the first crystal aircraft gifted to acknowledge this milestone.
  • It takes one return Upper Class flight to earn enough Flying Club miles to take an Economy ticket in standard season to NYC
  • The distance between Earth and the Moon is 238,900 miles. Just over five Upper Class returns to NYC earns this amount of miles
  • A stay on Richard’s Caribbean paradise Necker Island is the most fabulous reward. You’ll need 1.2 million miles for two people, seven days, all inclusive! Flights however not included!

Start your rewarding adventures by joining Flying Club today


About Dave Gunner

Dave is the co-editor of Ruby, the Virgin Atlantic Blog. He has worked at Virgin Atlantic for over two decades. In that time he has amassed some truly epic memories but never lost his fascination with the airline world. Dave's on a mission to bring you some great insights into our people, planes and planet.
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