Unusually tall cabin crew leaves airport agog

COMMUTERS at Melbourne Airport were agog yesterday when a flamboyant - and very tall - cabin crew strode through Terminal 3 towards the boarding gate for flight DJ 857. To celebrate Sydney's gay and lesbian Mardi Gras weekend, Virgin airlines had a special themed Melbourne-to-Sydney flight, complete with a drag queen cabin crew, dance routines and champagne at the boarding gate and the kind of in-flight entertainment one would normally find at the Greyhound Hotel.

Special guests on the ''Up, up and a gay'' flight included Channel Nine's entertainment reporter Richard Reid and Kylie Minogue impersonator and drag queen Millie Minogue.

''I was supposed to come with Molly [Meldrum] but he's busy, so I'm going up to see a friend,'' said Millie, who cheerfully posed for happy snaps with bewildered travellers.

''A few people are bamboozled and wondering what's going on!''

Drag queens from Leave It To Diva entertainment company, as well as Virgin Blue's very own steward and drag queen Ms Marion De Pilot, acted as an alternative cabin crew on the flight, providing a considerably more colourful in-flight service than that usually offered on domestic flights.

Virgin Blue have their own float in this weekend's Mardi Gras parade, and chief executive Brett Godfrey said the themed flight was in keeping with the festival's ethos of diversity and inclusiveness.

"People come in droves to Sydney to take part in celebrations, especially from Melbourne,'' Godfrey said.

''It's a great opportunity to coiffure our beehives, break out the sequins and kick off the party early by getting into the spirit Priscilla-style on the journey there."

''It's going to be fabulous,'' said Ms Penny Tration before the flight.

''After the boring safety demo we'll do our alternative version - we're going to sing the safety demonstration,'' she said.

''Then there'll be some numbers, and we'll be doing upgrades - and some downgrades as well.''