Virgin Atlantic ticket agent stole £1,000 in cash paid for upgrade

Virgin Atlantic ticket agent stole £1,000 in cash that passenger handed to her to secure Upper Class upgrade on London to New York flight, tribunal hears

  • Karin Forshaw, from London, was dismissed for failing to register transaction
  • She first claimed to Virgin no cash changed hands before saying it had been lost
  • Virgin dismissed Forshaw and said there were ‘inconsistencies with her story’ 
  • She took airline to tribunal, claiming unfair dismissal, but judge backed Virgin

A Virgin Atlantic ticket agent was sacked after she stole £1,000 in cash that was paid by a passenger for an upgrade on a London to New York flight, an employment tribunal has heard. 

Karin Forshaw, who lives in London, was handed the money in an envelope to secure an ‘Upper Class’ seat while working on the airline’s desk at Heathrow’s Terminal Three.

But she failed to register the transaction, claiming at first no cash had changed hands, then that the envelope had been put in the top shelf of the check-in desk before it went missing. 

The airline only found out about the exchange when they received a call four days later from the unidentified female passenger’s personal assistant, who complained about not receiving a receipt.

Forshaw had a career spanning more than 20 years at the airline and an unblemished employment record before the incident. She said she suffers from depression.

Upper Class seats pictured on the flight. A passenger paid £1,000 to upgrade to this cabin

Virgin launched an investigation following the phone call over the ‘no-show seat’ upgrade, the tribunal held in Reading, Berkshire, heard, and sacked her after ‘it became clear there were inconsistencies with her story’. 

When asked why she didn’t report it during the remaining four hours of her shift, she said she ‘panicked’.

Karin Forshaw, pictured, who lives in London, was handed the money to secure an Upper Class upgrade at the Virgin Atlantic desk in Heathrow’s Terminal Three

Forshaw said: ‘I understand the perception. When you spoke to me I didn’t know what to do… I just panicked, it was a shock to me.’ 

Virgin’s investigating officer, Andrew Miltiadou, said he sacked her because: ‘It is not credible that you misplaced that sum of money and it had then gone missing.

‘I appreciate that you have worked hard to build a good reputation at Virgin Atlantic for over 20 years and you regard yourself to be a good employee however I cannot ignore that this was a serious matter.

‘During the investigation process, you had given two different explanations.

‘This was an extremely serious case of where you were in a trusted position to handle cash.

‘My findings are that you did take the money and that you have been dishonest in a) doing so initially and b) attempting to avoid dismissal by alleging that the money simply went missing.

‘This dishonesty goes to the heart of whether you can be trusted to remain in any position within the company.’

Forshaw failed to register the transaction. She initially claimed no transaction had taken place, before saying the money had gone missing

Virgin Atlantic sacked her over the transaction. They said there were ‘inconsistencies’ with her story. Forshaw had worked at the company for 20 years and had an unblemished record

Forshaw took Virgin to an employment tribunal, claiming her dismissal was unfair and discriminatory due to her depression.

However, Judge Steven Vowles ruled her actions ‘justified’ dismissal. He said her disability did not impact her employer’s decision.

He said: ‘The most compelling evidence to support the allegation of having stolen the money was (Forshaw’s) false account… that no cash had changed hands.

‘Had the passenger’s personal assistant not telephoned on March 26, 2017, to complain about the lack of a receipt, there would have been no audit trail for the £1,000 in cash, and (Forshaw) would have known that.’

The passenger’s personal assistant telephoned Virgin on 26 March 2017, and Forshaw left her job at the company that month. 

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