(Update: Branson's flight will now be 1 May, Tony Fernandes says.)
AirAsia's marketing department is teasing us with this Photoshop concoction on the right, but it may not be far off from what we'll see.
"Branson will have to serve and even clean the toilets throughout the flight while wearing the high heels and the red AirAsia stewardess uniform," AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes says.
He adds Branson will also have to wear makeup and shave his legs as AirAsia does not permit "hairy stewardesses". But don't worry: Fernandes says Branson can keep his beard.
The unusual, perhaps unsightly, occurrence is the result of a bet made nearly a year ago between Branson and AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes.
The two were looking to promote their respective Formula One racing teams--Virgin Racing for Branson, Team Lotus for Fernandes--and agreed the owner of the team that performed worst in the F1 season would have to be a flight attendant on the other owner's airline. After losing last month, Fernandes gave Branson an AirAsia uniform and has now announced Branson's appearance on the 21 Feb flight.
Seats on the flight (which is not yet on AirAsia's reservation system) will be auctioned off with the proceeds going to a charity of Branson's choice.
Branson, never one to miss a savvy business opportunity, remarked on the Virgin Group owning a portion in Fernandes's AirAsia X: "The only positive thing is we own 20 per cent of his company so I'll be able to get some promotion for a company I have a stake in."
Should you feel any remorse for Branson, do consider that he perhaps had this coming. In 2003 he offered a similar bet to then-Qantas CEO Geoff Dixon over if Virgin Atlantic could start flights to Australia within a given time period. Virgin Atlantic did, but the Qantas boss didn't take Branson up on his offer, saying "We are running an airline, not a circus."