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Australian cabin crew are being given etiquette training in the hope that they will stop calling passengers “mate”.
The term is popular among Australians as it refers to a revered kinship, or “mateship” that some claim has historical roots.
But Virgin Australia considers the word too informal for dealing with its business class passengers.
The airline is asking flight attendants to complete a course in etiquette, wine-appreciation, grooming and body language, according to a report in the Australian Daily Telegraph.
Staff who have taken the “Elevate” training course will only be allowed to address passengers classified as frequent flyers “mate”, if they have specifically asked to be.
The move is apparently in the hope of attracting business passengers from rival airline Qantas.
Mark Hassell, Virgin Australia’s group executive of brand and customer experience, said: “We are not creating clones and we are not creating straightjackets for people. We want to retain the spirit that exists within Virgin… but put it in a context that is equally relevant for business-purpose and corporate travellers.”
The airline is also remodelling its airport lounges, including removing the pool tables from Melbourne and introducing baristas and buffet food.
Virgin Australia was previously known as Virgin Blue, and last year used Elle Macpherson, the model, to launch its new cabin crew uniforms.