24 February 2023 | Community

Virgin Australia & United Airlines Pride Flights Touch Down in Sydney

Friday 24 February 2023

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  • More than 1,000 people partied for pride at 30,000 feet today, with four Virgin Australia Pride Flight services, and one United Airlines service, touching down in Sydney. The flights featured legendary drag performers and famous faces, ahead of the world’s largest gay and lesbian event this weekend.
  • The airline launched its maiden Pride Flight services from Adelaide and Perth, which joined Pride Flight services from Melbourne and Brisbane, and the first ever Pride Flight from San Francisco, operated by United Airlines in partnership with Virgin Australia.
  • After landing, Virgin Australia and United Airlines’ Pride Flight ticket holders made their way to the Landing Party (after party) at iconic Sydney LGBTQIA+ venue, The Beresford, for a line up of exciting entertainment including an exclusive performance by Australian singer, Samantha Jade.
  • This year, Virgin Australia is extending the celebration with a Pride Flight Recovery Brunch at Alibi Bar & Dining tomorrow (Saturday), in partnership with Ovolo Hotels.
  • $30 from the sale of each ticket on Virgin Australia-operated Pride Flight services will be donated to the Minus18 LGBTQIA+ youth charity. United Airlines will donate $25,000 USD to The Trevor Foundation.


Five Pride Flights landed in Sydney today:

  • Brisbane to Sydney VA2000 (numbered to represent the year 2000, which played host to the first WorldPride event)
  • Melbourne to Sydney VA1978 (numbered to represent the year 1978, when Sydney hosted its first Mardi Gras Parade)
  • Adelaide (maiden flight) to Sydney VA1975 (numbered to represent the year 1975, when South Australia became the first Australian state to decriminalise male homosexuality)
  • Perth (maiden flight) to Sydney VA2017 (numbered to represent the year 2017, when same-sex marriage was legalised in Australia)
  • San Francisco (maiden flight) to Sydney Pride Flight, UA863/VA8005


Flights from Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth included a pre-flight departure party with drag entertainment by local LGBTQIA+ venues (Connections Nightclub, Mary’s Poppin’, Fluffy and Sircuit), celebrity appearances, mid-air drag performances, bottomless beverages, DJ entertainment, dancing and more.


  • Virgin Australia Group CEO, Jayne Hrdlicka celebrated with guests at Brisbane Airport and made comments (see quote below)
  • Pride-goers were fiercely entertained in the air by RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under stars Karen from Finance, Maxi Shield, and Coco Jumbo, along with some of Australia’s beloved local drag talent Barbie Q, Penny Tration, Sexy Galexy and Tora Hymen.
  • The flight consisted entirely of Virgin Australia LGBTQIA+ pilots, crew and allies, with the following special guests joining in on the fun:


  • Brooke Warne, Social personality & daughter of the late, Shane Warne
  • Olivia Molly Rogers, Former Miss Universe & social personality
  • Sophie Cachia, Social personality & entrepreneur
  • Deni Todorovic, Activist & author
  • Khanh Ong, TV personality
  • Louis Hanson, TikTok personality & presenter
  • Paul Versace, Fashion stylist
  • Asher Yasbincek, Actress, Heartbreak High
  • Gemma Chua-Tran, Actress, Heartbreak High
  • Tim Kano, Actor
  • Lana Wilkinson, Celebrity stylist
  • Samantha Andrew, Social media personality
  • Brittney Cutts, Social media personality
  • Milo Hartil, Social media personality & performer


  • Alli Simpson, Singer
  • Angie Simpson, Mother of Cody & Alli Simpson
  • Carlotta, Australian transgender personality and cabaret performer
  • Patti Pinkcake, Celebrity influencer
  • Angie Kent, Radio host & TV personality


  • Danielle Laidley, AFL personality
  • Donna Leckie, Partner of Danielle Laidley
  • Brodie Townsend, Actor, Heartbreak High cast member
  • Stuart Aubrey, MLA
  • Tommy Blake, Model & content creator


  • Cristina Tridente, Fashion designer
  • Sarah Jeavons, Content creator
  • Alexandra Duggan, Winner of The Traitors Aus, content creator


Guests of the Pride Flight services above, plus:

  • Samantha Jade - Australian singer, songwriter
  • Darcy Vescio - AFLW player
  • Richard Reid - TV personality
  • Katie Brennan - AFLW player
  • Keiynan Lonsdale - Actor
  • Donny Gallea - Celebrity stylist
  • Max Made - Celebrity make up artist
  • Will Gibb - Australian comedian
  • Suzan Mutesi - Actress
  • Brandon Kilgour - Model
  • Brihony Dawson - TV presenter
  • Bryn Chapman Paris - Actor


Virgin Australia Group CEO Jayne Hrdlicka said, “I’m incredibly proud of the Virgin Australia team from right across the business who have made Pride Flight one of the most recognisable pride events in the country.

The Virgin Australia Pride Flight was initially launched during the pandemic and fast forward to today, we have Pride Flight services all over the country, and our very first international Pride Flight from San Francisco with our wonderful partner, United Airlines.

Pride Flight is going from strength to strength and it’s so important that as a leader in diversity and inclusion, we all continue to spread pride in the communities in which we live, work and fly.

Again this year we are partnering with Minus 18 to donate a portion of ticket sales to this very important organisation who helps LGBTQIA+ Australians during young adulthood.

The feeling right across our airports today is electric, and it’s truly special to see so many people from all walks of life celebrating together,” said Ms Hrdlicka.

Speaking of the airline’s partnership with United, Ms Hrdlicka said “Our partnership with United Airlines is incredibly important and it’s so wonderful to witness the collaboration between the airlines, and the joy we have brought our guests in spreading pride right across the Pacific and throughout Australia,” she said.

“As a proud ally of the LGBTQ+ community and the leading carrier from the U.S. to Australia, United is thrilled to join the party and help people celebrate the upcoming Pride events in Sydney,” said Lori Augustine, Vice President of Operations for United in San Francisco. “At United, we recognize, embrace and celebrate the differences that make our customers and employees unique. We’re committed to creating an inclusive work environment while supporting the diverse communities we serve. Our Pride Flight is yet another example of how at United, Good Leads the Way.”


Instagram: @virginaustralia @united
#VirginAustralia #VAPrideFlight #UnitedAirlines

For more information, visit: http://www.virginaustralia.com/prideflight, .Virgin Australia and United Airlines spread wings for Pride Flight | Virgin Australia Newsroom  and United and Virgin Australia to Celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride on Flight from San Francisco to Sydney | United Newsroom.


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About Pride Flight

Virgin Australia started Pride Flight in 2021 and it has quickly taken off to be one of the most recognisable pride events in the country.

2023 marked the first Pride Flight service from Adelaide and Perth as well as the first international Pride Flight from San Francisco to Sydney, operated by United Airlines, in partnership with Virgin Australia.

Pride Flight is proudly supported by:

  • Accolade Wines (Madam Sass, Yarra Burn Sparkling)
  • The Beresford
  • Archie Rose Distilling Co.
  • Carlton & United Breweries (Balter)
  • QUAY Sunglasses
  • Connections Nightclub
  • Mary’s Poppin
  • Fluffy
  • Sircuit
  • Ovolo Hotels

Key events:

  • Perth Pre-flight party – Friday 24 February at 5.30am
  • Sydney Pride Flight Landing Party, United Airlines, in partnership with Virgin Australia  – Friday 24 February at 8.30am
  • Adelaide Pre-flight Party - Friday 24 February at 9.30am
  • Brisbane Pre-flight Party – Friday 24 February at 9.35am
  • Melbourne Pre-flight Party – Friday 24 February at 10.30am
  • The Beresford Pride Flight Landing Party – Friday 24 February from 4.00pm – 6.00pm
  • The Ovolo Recovery Brunch (Woolloomooloo) – Saturday 25 February from 11.00am

Virgin Australia Pride Flight schedule:
San Francisco > Sydney

UA863 (codeshare flight VA8005)

Wednesday 22 February departing at 10.45pm, arriving on Friday 24 February at 9.05am

Perth > Sydney


Friday 24 February departing at 7:00am, arriving at 2:15pm

Adelaide > Sydney


Friday 24 February departing at 11:30am, arriving at 1:55pm

Brisbane > Sydney


Friday 24 February departing at 11:35am, arriving at 2:10pm

Melbourne > Sydney


Friday 24 February departing at 12:30pm, arriving at 1:55pm