Branson was originally scheduled to make the trip earlier in the year, but damaged himself skiing. The red-dress flight was postponed to May 1.
But organisers then discovered that there would be a shortage of hotel rooms and other facilities in London – start-point for the long-haul flight to Kuala Lumpur – because of the royal wedding on April 29.
It is now scheduled for July 4.
Branson’s own walk up the aisle – and down, and up and down – came about when he lost a bet with AirAsia founder Tony Fernandez. Each owns a Formula 1 team, and the bet was about whose team would come out ahead in the 2010 racing season. Fernandez’s Team Lotus beat Branson’s Virgin team.
Fernandez clearly relishes the occasion. “He’ll have to work the whole flight. He’ll have to serve, he’ll have to clean, he’ll have to clean the toilets,” said Fernandes.
He added, “As an AirAsia flight attendant, Richard will have to comply with our grooming standards, and that includes shaving his legs.
“Rather than shave him myself, Richard and I thought we could have a bit of fun, engage with our guests and raise more money for charity if we opened up the opportunity to the highest bidder. It’s the first time we’ve both agreed on anything, so that in itself is worth the price of the opening bid.”
Fernandez plans to bring 250 of his closest friends on the flight, leaving room for 160 paying passengers at about B110,000 a head. Those proceeds, along with money from sales of tickets to charity parties in London and KL, will go to Branson’s charity, Virgin Unite.