Dear Richard Branson

Flying Virgin Atlantic to Shanghai

Dear Richard Branson

I hope you are well and Necker Island is not too hot this time of year.

I am writing to inform you of an unfortunate incident and to ask for your help in preventing such heart breaking problems in future.

First things first, I love your airline. Your planes are new, big and sexy which given that I am terrified of flying is quite an important factor for me (I mean the new-ness, not the sexiness…I’m not that ‘wants to have sex with inanimate objects’ kind of weirdo). I also love your routes (heh, mind out of the gutter) that take me directly to all the strange places I need to go for work. And I love that you call your entertainment system Vera which I choose to believe (I am in China as I write this and can’t google to confirm) is named after your 98 year old mother who always had a soft spot in her heart for Steven Seagal. Oh and if I ask really nicely your staff will always give me an extra bag of those sour cream and chive pretzel things to have with my gin and tonic.

So yes, I quite like your airline. In fact, Virgin Atlantic is my preferred option whenever I fly.

Which brings me to the unfortunate incident. An incident that to others may seem a trifling piffle, an inconsequential fart in a pressurised cabin. But to me this incident cut to the very core of my being.

Shanghai airport made me throw away my nail polish.

Richard, I know we are on the same page when it comes to issues of beauty. I can see by your perfectly coiffured bonnet that a lot of thought goes into your appearance, it is your armour against the world. Which is exactly how I feel about my nail polish. Having my nails painted makes me feel like I have my shit together even when I am falling apart. Unironically painting my pointed nails as close as I could get to Virgin red somehow makes me able to get on the plane today even though I have a history of crying on strangers when there is turbulence.

Since I fly so much for work I always make sure to take couple of nail polish bottles with me to keep up my ‘got my shit together’ pretence through all my meetings. For this trip I didn’t know what my vibe would be like when I got there so I took four of my favourite colours, all in my go to brand Essie. Not that I need to tell you, but Essie has these awesome wide brushes which makes getting that perfect tidy edge a breeze (I’m sure you use them for the same reason). The reasons for my colour choices were:

Mint Candy Apple: This colour is like crack to X chromosomes, I’m not sure if it is because it is close to Tiffany blue or if it is just a non-historically gendered colour that we can all love unashamedly…but regardless it is summery and good.

Cocktail Bling: This is my favourite grey, it sits in the middle of the Venn diagram of ‘pretty pastel shades that are cute and socially acceptable’ and ‘shades that are the same colour as your dark heart of coal’.

Spin the Bottle: This shade is the perfect pasty-girl nude (I think it would really work for your colouring as well), and is a great travel colour because even if it chips a little (not that it ever would since I use a Seche Vite top coat) you don’t really notice.

Too too hot: This is the closest colour I had to a Virgin Atlantic red, and I thought that red nails in China would go down well in meetings (I think it did, all my meetings went well, thank you for your concern).

And of course I also took my standard OPI Nail Envy to use as a base coat and Seche Vite which as you know is the best top coat around – it dries your nails in about two minutes and keeps your manicure chip free for up to two weeks.

I fly everywhere with the above kit checked in my luggage. That is 14 flights between the UK, Europe, USA and Asia in the last two months with no problem at all – just the cabin crew occasionally commenting on how awesome my nails are. Then I few out of Shanghai and there was an unfortunate incident. (I say flew, I am currently sitting in the terminal on the floor waiting to fly but that seemed too hard to fit into a simple sentence, please excuse the inaccuracy).

As I was checking in the staff gave me my passport back but refused to give me my boarding pass, insisting I went to the baggage check room first. I made my way there and saw my suitcase; remember I haven’t gone through customs at this stage I am still near the check in desk. The security lady made me go through my entire suitcase that I was checking into the hold, and then pulled out my nail polish creating the saddest flat-lay in the world:

Sad nail polish flatlay in Shanghai

According to this security officer Shanghai airport will not let you take nail polish anywhere on the plane, even in a checked in bag. As I protested she even took a bit of nail polish and set it on fire to prove that it was flammable. I tried to point out that the hairspray would have more dramatic results, and in fact if you set any of the clothes in my suitcase on fire we could have quite an impressive bonfire. I was even willing to bring the marshmallows.

But no. The polish was not coming onto the plane. I was, am still am, heartbroken. Your Virgin staff tried to help and one even suggested that she would look after it for me and return it to me the next time I am in Shanghai (she was the best).

I know this is not a Virgin problem, it is not an airline policy rather it is an airport one. But it does affect your passengers i.e. me. So here is my suggestion, here is me begging via the medium of a blog for your help. Richard please include a warning for all passengers booking your Shanghai to London leg that their nail polish will be confiscated. I have even mocked up the below option that you could use:


Virgin Atlantic nails

Please Richard, from one beauty lover to another, help me to protect other Virgin Atlantic travellers from having to abandon their nail polish in Shanghai.

Love and respect,


P.s. once we have sorted out this nail polish thing, can we have a talk about your check in staff putting the luggage stickers on your passport? The residue from the stickers never goes away and not only does the back of my passport look like it need ten sheet masks in a row, but I just woke up with it stuck to my face. #luxtravel

Author: runawaykiwi

9 thoughts on “Dear Richard Branson

  1. I now know more than I ever needed to about nail polish, including how flammable it is. I suspect that this will come in handy at some point in my future, probably around the time of the zombie apocalypse. At the appropriate moment, I shall offer up a silent prayer of thanks to the Runaway Kiwi for saving my life.


  2. Hey Rebecca,

    I can totally understand the feeling of “Keeping the shit together” by just looking the shining the colors on the nail, i couldn’t agree more with this. In our busy schedules and between the mundane Mondays and 9 to 5 office and then managing everything at home and socially, looking at those perfectly polished nails sometimes remind me that yes i am hanging, i am there, i am doing something for myself, somehow it makes happy and yes it definitely enhances the look. In last three years, there was never a time when i went outside of house without my nails painted.

    I am sorry that you had to lose your nail paints in china and thanks for the heads up for all of us to not lose our nail paints while travelling to China.

    Love & Thanks,

  3. Shanghai airport also does not allow little mini bottles of alcohol (“nips”, as you may call them) in your carry on, despite them being under the 3 oz limit and EVERY OTHER AIRPORT in the world being okay with them. I learned this the hard way and had to drink all of mine at security. I do not like them.

  4. Wow never considered that airports do that to you! Surely if it’s checked that would be fine, but I agree, many things can be flammable when ignited – why worry about harmless nail polish?

  5. I literally just had the same thing happen to me at Shanghai and I was only transiting through their airport! 6 bottles of nail polish got removed from my bag. I had 22 flights with in 2 months through out Europe and it was no problem! Such a stupid rule, I had to google to see if it was an actual thing and then stumbled upon your blog!
    sadly mourning the loss of all my pretty new polishes I picked up along my travels 🙁

  6. I always carry almost the exact contents, opi base coat, seche vite top coat, Essie mojito and normally three other colours because I can’t decide on things that far in advance. That shits not cheap! I’d be devastated if they took it all away. Seriously, warnings for different airport regulations would not go amiss.

    The same for security check ins, I’d like these to be standardised. Some you have to take your laptop, kindle, cameras, anything that can be plugged in out of your bag along with taking shoes off, some just your laptop and liquids. So confusing! And then they act like YOU are the one inconveniencing everyone because you don’t know what you need to put in trays.

    Get your shit together airports.

Comments are closed.