Virgin Atlantic Little Red: Our Plane Names Revealed

Queen of the Cobbles and Katherine Kelly .jpg

Last month we announced our brand new domestic flight service Virgin Atlantic Little Red to Manchester and called upon the people of Manchester to help name the Airbus A320 aircraft.

The winning name chosen by the team at Virgin Atlantic Little Red was the enigmatic “˜Queen of the Cobbles’ which reflected Manchester’s on going love affair with northern long-standing television series Coronation Street.

The lucky winner, Corrie fan Ruth Crawshaw, who works near the airport was handpicked from hundreds of names and was invited to see the plane’s maiden voyage into the city as part of her prize.

Little did she know that she would be also meeting another very famous “˜Queen of the Cobbles’ at the unveiling ceremony, the hugely popular Katherine Kelly, who is better known for playing the much-loved Becky McDonald in Coronation Street and more recently Lady Mae Loxley in ITV’s hit drama Mr Selfridge.

The actress was enlisted by Little Red as a true “˜Queen of the Cobbles’ to surprise the long-standing Corrie fan, providing her with a day she’d never forget!

A fitting tribute

“Corrie is such a vital part of Manchester tradition and it’s only right that the plane should be named after the many feisty women who have captivated audiences in their time on the Street. It’s an honour to be one of those many “˜Queen of the Cobbles’ and very fitting as viewers last saw Becky leaving “˜the Cobbles’ on a Virgin Atlantic flight sipping champagne in upper class on her way to the Caribbean,” said Ms Kelly, whose character jetted out of the soap last year to make a new life in Barbados.

Queen of the Cobbles with Katherine Kelly and Ruth Crawshaw.jpg

Ruth Crawshaw and Katherine Kelly with Queen of the Cobbles


The new Little Red flights will be offering a taste of the customer service Virgin Atlantic is world-renowned for with free 23kg luggage check-ins, pre-assigned seats, complimentary snacks and drinks and even hot breakfasts on early morning flights.

Mrs Crawshaw, a supply-and-demand manager for a financial services firm, was rewarded with two flights aboard the new service. Accompanied by her husband and mum at the airport for the unveiling, she was also presented with a “˜Little Red legend award’ signed by our famous owner, Sir Richard Branson, as a further thank you.

Greeting Queen of the Cobbles

“Virgin always have glamorous women on the tail of their planes. The cobbles in Manchester are one of the most iconic things here and I wanted to tie it in with Virgin Atlantic,” said Mrs Crawshaw. “I’m a big fan of Corrie and I can’t believe I was also given the opportunity to meet Katherine too. It’s made my year.”

“We aim to make anyone who flies with Virgin Atlantic feel special and the Little Red service is no different,” said Fay Burgin, our Head of PR. “We had many wonderful entries such as Busby Babe, She’s Electric and Northern Lass, but Queen of the Cobbles really captured the spirit of Manchester and the essence of the Virgin Atlantic Airways brand.”

A long tradition

Rock and roll names are also important to us with ‘Maiden Voyager’ starting a long tradition of colourful titles for each of the airline’s fleet since its launch nearly 30 years ago.

Stephen Bottomley decided that the first Virgin Atlantic plane to fly directly from Edinburgh should be called ‘Maggie May’, inspired by veteran rocker Rod Stewart’s chart-topping hit of the same name – and his own mother Margaret.

Mr Bottomley was rewarded with two flights aboard Little Red – which is now flying six daily round trips to London Heathrow – and with his wife and two teenage sons he was treated to a behind-the-scenes tour at the airport to greet the newly-christened plane.

Stephen Bottomley family and Maggie May.jpg

Stephen Bottomley and family with Maggie May


To celebrate the launch of our Aberdeen route, the honour of naming our latest Airbus A320 aircraft went to Karen Clements, a nursery nurse from Stonehaven. Her winning name ‘Tartan Lassie’ joins the pantheon of great flying ladies in the Virgin fleet such as Lady Penelope and Ruby Tuesday.

“I was just going with the most Scottish idea I could think of,” said Karen. “I’ve flown Virgin Atlantic to Las Vegas before which was fantastic. And I love the fact we can now all fly into London on a plane with a truly Scottish name.”

Karen Clements and Tartan Lassie.jpg

Karen Clements and Tartan Lassie


Ms Clements was also treated to a behind-the-scenes tour at Aberdeen airport on launch day and two flights aboard Little Red. “It was a wonderful experience to be up in the cockpit waving out, I felt like a rock star. I’ll never forget it,” she said.


The new domestic service will be creating more than 150 new jobs and along with our fourth plane ‘Rosie Lee’ will fly almost one million passengers per year domestically.


Book your Little Red flight today and you could be flying aboard one of our lovely ladies soon!

About 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.
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