Airline buys 2000 copies of children’s book for bedtime tales on overnight flights

Virgin Atlantic has teamed up with a working father and newly published author to bring an enjoyable service to children travelling on overnight flights.

Virgin Atlantic ordered 2000 copies of 'The Great Hot Air Balloon Adventure' to offer on late night flights. Image by Virgin Atlantic Blog

The airline recently purchased 2000 copies of, “The Great Hot Air Balloon Adventure” by author Stephen Holmes to offer to young passengers looking for a fun night time read. It is part of the larger introduction of games, competitions and story books on board flights aimed at keeping children happy while travelling. During the month of August, cabin crew and pilots will also be running games and on board drawing competitions on day flights.

“We have so many families travelling with us and we know how difficult it can be for a parent trying to keep children entertained on what can be a long flight,” said cabin crew member Clare Fraser.

A selection of family orientated fun and games are also being launched by the airline for the summer months. Image by Virgin Atlantic Blog

Holmes wrote the book after getting into the habit of making up bedtime stories for his children. The basis for what became ‘The Great Hot Air Balloon Adventure’ proved to be a hit with his daughters Madison and Ella, who encouraged Stephen to create the book. Finding an illustrator online, Stephen ordered a small print run and began selling the book at markets before contacting Virgin Atlantic about the story. The reply was quick, with the team at Virgin Atlantic placing a large order for selected night flights.

Author Stephen Holmes first created the story for his children, who encouraged him to write it down and publish it. Image by Virgin Atlantic Blog

“I was trying my luck. I was amazed to get such a quick response, and was absolutely bowled over when they said that they’d like to make an order,” said Stephen Holmes.

Matt Webster, Senior Customer Experience Manager at Virgin Atlantic said,“We were instantly charmed by Stephen’s endearing book, as well as the story behind it, and felt it would be a great hit with families on night time flights. It was the icing on the cake that Stephen is based in Haywards Heath, just around the corner from Virgin Atlantic’s HQ. We always like to support up-and-coming local talent where we can”.

Services on day flights aimed at younger passengers include art competitions and games. Image by Virgin Atlantic Blog

Due to the book’s success, Stephen is looking at the possibility of publishing similar books in the future. “I’d certainly never thought of myself as an author, just a dad making up stories for his kids. But what's happened with Balloon has been incredible. I've definitely got the bug now and I'm testing out new stories all the time with my two biggest critics/supporters - my girls".

The book is available on selected night flights with Virgin Atlantic and online at