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Virgin Atlantic flight to New York canceled after passenger notices missing wing bolts

By Mandy Donalds
January 23, 2024
A Virgin Atlantic flight to New York was canceled after a vigilant passenger observed missing components on one of the plane's wings.In a recent incident, a Virgin Atlantic flight bound for New York was grounded before takeoff from Manchester, England. The cancellation occurred after a passenger noticed and reported missing fasteners on one of the aircraft's wings, prompting the airline to conduct extensive maintenance checks, as reported by FOX Business.

Observant passenger's concern leads to flight cancellation

Phil Hardy, a 41-year-old British traveler, was preparing to depart on Flight VS127 when he observed the absence of four fasteners during the pre-flight safety briefing.

Hardy, aware of the importance of every component on an aircraft, promptly informed the cabin crew of his discovery.

He said:

I’m a good flyer, but my partner was not loving the information I was telling her and starting to panic, and I was trying to put her mind at rest as much as I could. I thought it was best to mention it to a flight attendant to be on the safe side.

The alert led to immediate action by Virgin Atlantic, with engineers swiftly summoned to inspect the Airbus A330.

The focus was on ensuring the safety of the aircraft and its passengers, a priority that the airline emphasized in their formal response to the incident.

Airline and Airbus emphasize safety despite missing components

Upon inspection, it was confirmed that four out of 119 fasteners on a wing panel were missing.

Virgin Atlantic, in collaboration with Airbus, stressed that the missing components did not compromise the structural integrity or safety of the aircraft.

Neil Firth, an Airbus local chief wing engineer for the A330, reassured the public about the robustness of the aircraft's design.

Firth said:

Each of these panels has 119 fasteners so there was no impact to the structural integrity or load capability of the wing, and the aircraft was safe to operate.

The incident, however, did lead to the flight's cancellation as the airline decided to undertake precautionary additional engineering checks.

This decision underlines the airline's commitment to maintaining the highest safety standards and ensuring passenger safety at all times.

Maintenance and safety protocols in action

The maintenance team acted swiftly, replacing the missing fasteners and performing comprehensive checks to ensure the aircraft was fit for service.

The airline's spokesperson highlighted the team's approach, stating that the safety of customers and crew is their top priority and was never compromised during the incident.

The Virgin Atlantic spokesperson confirmed:

We always work well above industry safety standards and the aircraft is now back in service. We’d like to apologize to our customers for the delay to their journeys.

Passengers affected by the cancellation were rebooked on alternate flights to New York, as the airline apologized for the inconvenience and reiterated its commitment to passenger safety and service excellence.

The incident serves as a reminder of the critical role that passengers, crew, and maintenance teams play in the overall safety of air travel.

The proactive measures taken by Phil Hardy, the immediate response by the flight crew, and the thorough maintenance checks highlight the multi-layered safety protocols in place to ensure the well-being of everyone on board.


  • A Virgin Atlantic flight was canceled after a passenger reported missing fasteners on the wing.
  • Immediate maintenance checks confirmed the absence of four fasteners, which were promptly replaced.
  • Airline and Airbus officials assured that the aircraft's safety was not compromised due to the missing components.
  • The incident highlights the importance of vigilance and robust safety protocols in the aviation industry.
  • Passengers were accommodated on alternative flights, and the aircraft is now back in service.