Pilot stirs strong reactions after asking people to buy flights like they ‘bought toilet paper’


An airplane captain has gone viral for a blunt message on Instagram.

In an effort to encourage people to support the airline industry and inspired by viral Instagram account @dudewithsign and pilot Charlotte Dielman, Virgin Atlantic captain Chris Pohl took to Instagram on May 30 to share an image of himself holding a sign that reads “BUY AIRLINE TICKETS LIKE YOU BOUGHT TOILET PAPER” — a reference to the mass purchase of toilet paper amid the current health crisis.

“Please RE-POST and pass this message to everyone you know, because it’s REAL,” Pohl captioned the post. “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.”

The pilot’s post has since received nearly 5,000 likes and almost 500 comments, but reactions have been mixed. Some users expressed hesitation at buying tickets during a precarious time.

“I want to but our country has not opened the boundaries,” one person commented.

“Airlines simply aren’t needed. Is it nice to be able to jet set across the country for a quick vacation? Absolutely,” another wrote. “Are there other more environmentally friendly means of travel? Yes. Airlines are simply a modern convenience and not a necessity.”

At the height of the pandemic in the U.S., news outlets reported that U.S.-based airlines were set to report their first losses in years due to fears of contracting COVID-19. Many customers who bought tickets earlier in the year are still waiting to get their refunds.

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