‘Buy airline tickets like you bought toilet paper.’
That’s the plea from the most senior A350 training captain at Virgin Atlantic, Chris Pohl. And his request has gone viral.
Captain Pohl, 56, who has been flying for 38 years, posted a picture of himself holding up a piece of cardboard carrying the message to his Instagram profile – and it has now received over 4,100 ‘likes’. And he said he’d received messages of support from all over the world.
‘Buy airline tickets like you bought toilet paper.’ That’s the plea from the most senior A350 training captain at Virgin Atlantic, Chris Pohl. He posted the above image to his Instagram profile, and it’s gone viral
Customers are even using the hashtag #buyairlineticketslikeyouboughttoiletpaper in WhatsApp exchanges with Virgin Atlantic customer service teams.
Captain Pohl, who has logged 24,000 flying hours, explained that the inspiration came from Instagram sensation @dudewithsign, whose similarly styled pronouncements have led to 7.5million followers, and @pilotcharlotte, who posted a similar message.
His Instagram caption reads: ‘I have been following @dudewithsign since I started on Instagram and I saw @pilotcharlotte posted a similar message. I put them together to make my own version.’
The Australian, who lives in south-west France, near Toulouse, hopes that the photo, which was taken at the top of his son’s BMX ramp at their home, will help to ‘get the world flying again’.
The caption continues: ‘Please re-post and pass this message to everyone you know, because it’s real. We need the world to start booking tickets, which will allow airlines to fill aircraft and get us all flying again.
‘The only thing holding us back, is you, our loyal customers/passengers, without you, we’re grounded. Let’s get the world flying again.’
Captain Pohl, pictured, who has logged 24,000 flying hours, explained that the inspiration for his photo came from @dudewithsign, whose similarly styled pronouncements have led to 7.5million followers, and @pilotcharlotte, who posted a similar message
Captain Pohl told MailOnline Travel: ‘[Since posting the picture] I’ve had hundreds of DMs, texts, emails, WhatsApp messages and Facebook messages, plus many calls. Messages arriving from all over the world. Many travel agents are asking to use the image, and of course, the answer is yes. This photo is not about me, it’s about sending a fun message to get people motivated to buy airline tickets.’
Frequent flyer Gilbert Ott, who runs the travel tips site God Save The Points, gave the post his backing.
He said: ‘I think he got the timing right. Safety concerns are on the way down, borders are opening… We need to get confidence back up and get the travel bug going.’
Captain Pohl explained that the Covid-19 crisis had hit travel and aviation ‘like nothing ever before’.
He said: ‘In all my years flying, I have never experienced a crisis like this, including 9/11 and Sars.
‘My colleagues and I at Virgin Atlantic are optimistic. We know that as the Covid-19 crisis subsides, air travel will be a vital enabler of the UK’s economic recovery and as the Covid-19 crisis stabilises and demand gradually returns, we are looking forward to welcoming our customers back onboard and flying them safely to their favourite destinations.
‘Our teams are working really hard to ensure the health and safety of our people and our customers, and when we resume flying, we’ll be implementing new measures to offer peace of mind for our customers and our people when taking to the skies.
‘There’s so much uncertainty created by the 14-day UK quarantine that people are not sure if or when they can fly.’
Captain Pohl explained that the Covid-19 crisis had hit travel and aviation ‘like nothing ever before’. Pictured is a Virgin Atlantic A350
Captain Pohl said Virgin Atlantic has been operating repatriation flights and vital cargo runs.
He added: ‘We’re assisting the FCO with repatriation flights, bringing stranded Britons back to the UK. Most recently bringing people back from Lagos.
‘And also, for the first time in our history, we’re flying cargo-only flights, keeping global supply chains running and transporting essential supplies around the world. We’re also partnering with the Department for Health and the NHS, working with them on cargo charters from Shanghai and Beijing, bringing in essential PPE that the teams here in the UK urgently need to care for patients.’