Qantas and Rex won't give priority boarding to defence personnel despite request from Senator James McGrath

RECOGNITION: RSL sub-branch president Harry Edmonds says priority airline boarding for defence personnel should include emergency services as well.
RECOGNITION: RSL sub-branch president Harry Edmonds says priority airline boarding for defence personnel should include emergency services as well.

A proposal to give defence force personnel priority treatment on flights has been welcomed by some of Wagga’s senior returned servicemen.

On Monday, Senator James McGrath revealed he had asked the heads of major Australian airlines to give serving and former defence personnel and their families priority boarding.

Wagga’s RSL sub-branch president Harry Edmonds said he thought it was a great idea, but he wanted to see it extended to emergency services personnel as well.

“We think the first responders should be included in it, I think it shows that little bit of a thank you for what they’ve done,” Mr Edmonds said.

“A lot of our police serve overseas, as well as firefighters and ambos, they put their life on the line all the time and we have a good rapport with them.

“It’s great that they even thought about it, but it should be taken a bit further.”

Senator McGrath said it was a small step that would help honour the service given to Australia.

“I would like to see Australia’s major airlines encourage this spirit of recognition… and incorporating into the airlines’ cabin announcements an acknowledgement of their service to our country,” Senator McGrath said.

“Australia has a proud record of honouring our current and retired defence force personnel (and) this simple gesture, to afford these men and women priority boarding, would go a long way to further encourage a culture of appreciation of the service and sacrifice our servicemen and women have made.”

However, a Qantas spokeswoman said priority boarding for military personnel was not being considered.

“We fly people who do amazing, selfless things every day, from public servants like doctors and nurses, to charity workers and, of course, servicemen and women,” the spokeswoman said.

“We won’t single out one group over another, outside of special occasions like Anzac Day.

“Qantas has the utmost respect for all those who’ve served… (we) will instead continue to focus our support through our partnerships with the defence force and Department of Veterans Affairs.”

Rex chief operating officer Neville Howell thanked Senator McGrath for his suggestion, but said there would be little benefit given the 34-seat capacity of its aircraft.