Friday, April 5, 2013

Virgin Atlantic tricks Chinese state broadcaster with April Fools’ prank

A screenshot of Chinese Central Television’s report on Virgin Atlantic
A screenshot of Chinese Central Television’s report
When it comes to April Fools’ Day, airlines don’t miss a trick!

Highlights from this year included ‘announcements’ about WestJet allowing passengers to travel with pets in the cabin, Southwest Airlines introducing hot air balloons into their fleet, and Delta equipping their aircraft with double-decker armrests so passengers don’t bump elbows!

While those are great examples, the airline that really captured the world’s attention (and received a heap of media coverage in return) was Virgin Atlantic.

“Virgin Atlantic Launches World’s First-Ever Glass-Bottomed Plane” screamed a headline on the airline’s blog. We were supposed to believe that after nearly 30 years of long-haul flying, Virgin Atlantic was launching the world’s first glass-bottomed plane, created to “ensure passengers can enjoy both an unparalleled flying experience, as well as a selection of stunning landscapes from the comfort of their seats.”

Virgin Atlantic's so-called glass-bottomed plane
Virgin Atlantic's so-called glass-bottomed plane
The so-called project was funded by Richard Branson himself and would offer every passenger the chance of a bird's eye view on-board Airbus A320s, with an extra special opportunity to look down on the beautiful scenery of Great Britain as they fly.

I love the creativity here, although most people would have guessed straight away that this was a joke, right? However, not everybody was in on the joke. In fact, wasting no time at all, Chinese Central Television’s news channel aired a report on the breakthrough development.

An embarrassing mistake for the broadcaster, the clip has since been pulled from its website (after The Associated Press let them know, it seems). However, screenshots of the unfortunate report on CCTV’s World Express programme have been attracting a huge number of views on Sina Weibo, a Chinese micro-blogging website, one of which I have included on this page.

"Maybe to spice up its programming for ratings, CCTV sometimes fails to check the source of the information," Beijing journalism professor Zhan Jiang told The Telegraph. After this incident, I guess they might be more inclined to fact check next time!


  1. Juditha-Jade PARKINSONApril 5, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    Got to be honest. When I read this Virgin Atlantic April Fool's Day prank, I thought this was true for the simple reason that I forgot that it was April 1 (it coincided with the religious holiday Easter Monday... my head was more absorbed by the latter). But I think for the Chinese state broadcaster to be tricked like this says a great thing: THEY ARE USED TO BEING FED "INFORMATION" by the Government AND RECITE THEM LIKE PARROTS. 

  2. Engineers should work to make this prank a reality. It will be cool!

  3. 'Good Joke' who knows we might have a plane like that one day
    "Someone once joked a long time ago that he could put the world in his pocket but today are not most of us doing just that" the hand phone.

  4. There would be little to see, since we fly above the clouds, maybe during take-offs and landings, but even then, little.


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