'I travelled on a rainbow party plane for World Pride. Here’s what happened.'

Parties on planes. 

It feels like an experience exclusive to the Jordan Belforts of the world. 

But for one night, I got to see how the other half lived. Only this time we were painting the pacific ocean rainbow for World Pride. 

Watch: LGBTIA+ vernacular. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

Ahead of World Pride in Sydney, I was lucky enough to be flown to San Francisco to catch United’s inaugural international Pride Flight in partnership with Virgin Australia from San Francisco to Sydney.

I know what you’re thinking, "Mikayla, you were flown overseas just to fly back?"

Yes. Yes, I was. But for good reason.

San Francisco is the queer capital of the USA (and depending on who you ask, some people believe it’s the LGBTQIA+ capital of the world). Dating back to the gold rush, the city’s majority male population took part in assuming roles usually assigned to women. It wasn’t unusual to see gender experimentation at local parties or balls. 


But in the last century, San Fran has been home to a lot of firsts. America’s first Lesbian Bar Mona’s 440 Club opened in 1936, Twin Peaks Tavern was the first openly gay bar in the US to have glass windows, the city elected the first openly gay candidate Harvey Milk to office in the 1970s, and importantly, it’s the birthplace of the rainbow flag. 

Safe to say, San Francisco was the perfect place to embark on our rainbow pilgrimage. 

Upon arriving at my flight gate at San Francisco International Airport I was greeted by an inflatable koala, a rainbow balloon arch, DJs, dogs dressed in sequined coats, and a performance from a drag queen. Oh, and a rainbow cookie buffet.

It was easily the most extravagant airport gate I’ve ever seen.

Image: Supplied.


As Lori Augustine, Vice President of Operations for United in San Francisco told us, "I moved here from Missouri, I was looking for diversity, I was looking for inclusivity... as a gay woman I wanted to hold hands with my partner and not be looked at differently. Like myself today on the flight, the whole crew, the flight attendants, pilots and airport employees are all part of the LGBTQIA+ community."

There was a distinguishable buzz of excitement in the air. One passenger as we boarded the flight even divulged, "I plan on finding a husband [at World Pride] and never leaving. I was obsessed with Steve Irwin when I was a kid, it’s been my childhood dream to come to Australia. I went to Copenhagen Pride and was there when they announced that Australia was next. I turned to my friend and said, 'We’re going!'". 

On board we were gifted rainbow cans of rose, love heart glasses fit for Pride, and a Koala holding the rainbow flag. We played games, heard poems, and listened to ABBA’s 'Dancing Queen' as we landed. 

It was far more wholesome than anything Jordan Belfort would’ve hosted.


When we arrived, I got to dance with drag queens before seeing a special performance from the pop princess herself, Samantha Jade. 

I don’t think Sydney airport has ever had a bigger party.

Obviously, flying across the Pacific for Mardi Gras is a privilege. But if you know anyone who has ever been to World Pride, you’d understand the pure euphoria of being able to celebrate who you are and who you love surrounded by those who feel the exact same way. 

It’s the kinda feeling you chase and one you’d be willing to fly across the world for.

Listen to No Filter. This is an episode about pronouns but it’s not really. It’s actually about love and shame and freedom and acceptance and painful struggles and life-changing revelations. Post continues below.

So was getting on an international pride plane what I thought it would be? 

No, not at all. 

But did it warm my heart to know that I had been a part of something that celebrated diversity so loudly that it literally crossed borders? 

Yes. Yes, it did. 

Mikayla Floriano travelled to San Francisco as a guest of United Airlines in Partnership with Virgin Australia.

Feature Image: Supplied

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