Skip to main content

Home Life Life Travel

Virgin Atlantic replaces ‘Flying Lady’ plane artwork with diverse new characters

Oscar will be flying the rainbow flag on the side of the company's new A350-1000 aircraft.

By Will Stroude


Virgin Atlantic is set to fly into the future after announcing plans to replace the ‘Flying Lady’ artwork that adorns its aircraft with a diverse new range of characters which better reflect modern Britain.

The company will bid farewell to the ‘Varga Girl’ after 35 years as ‘Flying Icons’ including a black man, a black woman, an Asian woman and a gay man in rainbow lyrca – known as ‘Oscar’ – are phased in on their new fleet of A350-1000 aircraft.

Virgin says the move represents the company’s “ambitions for gender and diversity balance in the workplace as well as our pledge to support people of all sexualities.”


From top left to bottom right: Virgin Atlantic’s new Flying Icons’ Zadie, Rey, Daley and Meera


It comes after the company announced that it would stop requiring cabin crew to wear make-up, and that it would allow female crew members to wear trousers.

The ‘Flying Icons’ are set to be rolled out on four brand new A350-1000 aircraft this year, followed by a further eight by 2021.

The move also makes the airline – which will run a special Pride flight staffed entirely by LGBTQ crew from London to New York for WorldPride this summer – the world’s first to sport male figureheads on their aircraft and, in the case of ‘Oscar’, a visibly LGBT one at that.

In a statement, Nikki Humphrey, SVP of People at Virgin Atlantic said: “The saying goes ‘You can’t be what you can’t see’ and that has never been truer than the aviation industry’s glamourous image in the past.

“We have been working for a number of years to tackle our gender pay gap, create an inclusive workplace and increase the diversity of our workforce, through the development of our Springboard scheme for women, as well as the launch of engineering apprenticeships.

“By introducing our new Flying Icons I hope it encourages people from all backgrounds to feel at home flying with us, but also working with us.”