DONATIONS BINNED: Mary Brown, who works in Fiji, was upset when Virgin wouldn't let her take donations for the people of Fiji on board.
DONATIONS BINNED: Mary Brown, who works in Fiji, was upset when Virgin wouldn't let her take donations for the people of Fiji on board. Contributed

Virgin finally speaks out after Yeppoon charity controversy

UPDATE 1.30PM: Virgin Australia has hit back saying they're sorry Mary's travel agency did not provide her with the correct information.

The major airline released an official comment this morning explaining they are committed to supporting the communities in which they operate.

" As we receive thousands of requests for excess baggage, we ask our customers to submit their request on the Virgin Australia website before they are due to travel," the comment read. 

"We're sorry to hear the customer was not provided with that information by their travel agency in this instance."

They did not indicate the airline would be providing any compensation for the $5000 worth of goods donated by the Yeppoon community.

YESTERDAY: MARY Brown was left heartbroken in the middle of the Brisbane airport after Virgin Australia left her no choice but to bin $5000 worth of donations.

The woman had collected donations from the people of Yeppoon for a Fijian Village which she works and lives near.

With several bags worth of donations in hand Mary went to check in her luggage, only to be told she would have to pay $500 extra for the bags to be loaded onto the plane.

"I had pre-arranged with Flight Centre to contact head office (about the donations), which I was informed had been done, however upon arrival to the airport I was greeted with the most unpleasant staff I have ever encountered," Mary said.

"No one had any sense of empathy and were prepared to charge me $500 to have the bags put through.

"When I told them I worked on a Fiji wage and $500 was less then what I would make in two months and that I only had $150 in my bank account, they proceeded to tell me that I would have to have someone collect the bags or to dispose of the charity donations into various bins around the airport."


Knowing no one from Brisbane, Mary asked if the Virgin staff would hold the donations until she could organise a friend to pick them up from the airport, but Mary said the staff refused to even do that.

"I was pretty much told there was no way to put the clothes on the flight unless I paid $500 and if I left the clothes at the airport I would not make the flight," she said.

"Essentially I was forced to throw them in the bin.

"Nothing can explain the hurt my soul faced as I threw bag after bag into the airport bins, visioning what I would have to say to the broken-hearted women who were going to set up a free Christmas stall with me and all the donations for the village people in Fiji."

After paying $130 extra for one extra bag and disposing of the remaining clothes, Mary boarded her flight to Fiji with tears in her eyes and a broken heart, shocked at the lack of compassion in the world today.

To make matters worse Mary arrived in Fiji to no sign of her luggage, it had not been put on the plane.

"So after all the drama they still couldn't manage to have my bags put on the right plane."

Mary has now taken to social media to share photos of the donations being dumped in the airport bins and has also written to the president in Fiji over the incident.

"I have written to the president's office in Fiji informing him that donations for his people were thrown into bins."

"I will write to every newspaper in Fiji as well as Australian newspapers to have this story exposed.

"I will do so every day until I am given compensation for the $5000 donations, a refund on my flight and the $130 dollars I paid for my bag that never arrived and a formal apology from the directors of Virgin Australia."

Mary said she was even more disappointed none of the Virgin staff offered to take the bags to St Vincent's or the Salvation Army for the needy in Australia.

A Virgin Australia spokesperson declined to comment yesterday, but a response is expected today.