Australian Defence Association rejects U.S.-style recognition for veterans by airlines

CANBERRA, Nov. 5 (Xinhua) — The Australia Defence Association (ADA) has labelled a Virgin Airlines plan to give veterans priority boarding “over the top.”

Virgin Australia on Sunday announced that veterans would be able to present their veterans’ card to go to the front of the boarding queue in addition to receiving recognition from the flight crew before take-off.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Defence Industry Minister Steven Ciobo voiced their support for the idea, calling on Qantas, Australia’s flag carrier airline, to follow suit.

However, ADA chief executive Neil James opposed the idea, saying there was a “fine line” between recognizing someone for their service and embarrassing them.

“There’s a fine line between embarrassing them and thanking them and, in some cases, where they’re suffering a psychological illness, effusively thanking them in public might not necessarily help them,” James said on Monday.

“A genuine proper thank you is better than an effusive hollow one.”

“A common sense idea would have been providing assistance like restoring the service discount that used to apply on domestic airlines up to the early 1980s.”

The ADA is an independent advocacy group that works on defence, security and veterans issues.

Darren Chester, minister for veterans’ affairs, concurred with James, saying that “some veterans would be quite happy to get on the plane without anyone knowing they are there.”

Qantas responded to the proposal by saying it has “utmost respect for current and former defence personnel” but dismissed Ciobo’s call for it to follow Virgin’s lead.

“We’re conscious that we carry a lot of exceptional people every day, including veterans, police, paramedics, nurses, firefighters and others, and so we find it difficult to single out a particular group as part of the boarding process,” spokesman Andrew McGinnes told News Corp Australia.

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