WATCH: Virgin Atlantic pilot shares major passenger misconception about her job


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Virgin Atlantic pilot Zoe Franklin is one of a small percentage of female pilots globally. Speaking as part of Virgin Atlantic’s Flight School, the pilot has shared what encouraged her to follow her dreams of being a pilot, as well as why she thinks more women should pursue the career.

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However, there is one major misconception about her job role that she is still often faced with after 13 years.

Speaking in an Instagram video as part of the series she revealed passengers often mistake her for another key role on the plane.

“There have been times when I have been treated differently because I am a woman,” she said.

“This is usually in the form of just being surprised to see me on the flight deck, or occasionally thinking that I am cabin crew instead of a pilot.”

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Virgin Atlantic pilot Zoe shared an insight into the job on Instagram (Image: Instagram @VirginAtlantic / Getty Images)

Flights: Zoe says passengers are often surprised to see a female pilot (Image: Instagram @VirginAtlantic)

As she explains, although “pilot” is not a gender-specific job, people often still have the misconception that pilots are men.

“On the whole people are just surprised because there aren’t that many female pilots compared to male pilots,” she said.

Though she is championing for change and hopes more young women enter into the profession, she has said that being a female pilot can have some perks.

“I have had people approach me on numerous occasions and ask questions they’ve always wanted to know the answers to but have just found it easier to talk to another woman so I am really glad I can help out with that,” she said.

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Despite the misconception from passengers though, the senior first officer says that this does not affect her day-to-day role.

“On the flight deck with my fellow pilots I am treated in the same way as they would treat any other pilot,” she continued.

“My colleagues are professional and friendly and we always have a lot of laughs whilst working hard.”

Ms Franklin, who flies both the Airbus A330 and A350, points out that although people often consider pilots to be specifically men, there is actually no requirement for a specific gender when it comes to flying.

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“Even today, women still make up a small percentage of pilots globally and this is something that needs to change,” she said.

“I fly predominantly with male pilots and have only flown with female pilots a handful of times in my 13-year career so far.

“However, even with the numbers as they are currently, this is not something that I would ever think about as a reason not to pursue my dream job.

“The people I work with are wonderful people regardless of their race, gender, ethnicity, or any other elements that make them who they are.

“My job title is ‘pilot’ and this is in no way gender-specific.

“Although the ratio of men and women in the role is still heavily skewed, I strongly believe that the idea that women are still a minority should not prevent anyone from following their dream job.”

She added: “The most important element of all of this, though, is that the aeroplane has no idea and doesn’t care who you are.

“When you are landing a 230-tonne aeroplane in gusty conditions on a stormy night you’re in charge and it is completely irrelevant if you are male or female or any other element that makes you you.”


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