As Qantas and Virgin Australia compete for the corporate market, both airlines have been pulling all the stops to offer the best product in the pointy end. Both Qantas and Virgin have recently upgraded their A330 Business class to offer luxurious suites and restaurant-quality meals.
Our member PaulST had the opportunity to compare and contrast the new Business class products on both airlines on a recent trip to Perth. This member has prepared a detailed review of the experience. So, which airline was the preferred choice in the pointy end?
When flying Business, the airport experience begins with the lounge. Qantas Platinum members and Business class passengers have access to Qantas’ dedicated premium Business lounges. These offer superior food and beverages and other amenities. Virgin Gold & Platinum flyers, and Business customers, all share one lounge. But the Perth lounge visited by our member is a great space. Newly opened, the Virgin Perth lounge is large and offers ample powerpoints, spotless shower suites and a range of food and drinks.
QF’s domestic J lounge in Sydney is fine, although starting to show its age. VA’s Perth lounge is all new and very spacious and quiet when I was there. Both had similar amounts of food/drink with baristas available to prepare proper coffees.
While the Qantas and Virgin Business suites differ slightly in design, both convert to lie-flat beds and all seats come with direct aisle access. Also coming with both suites is a large entertainment screen, noise-cancelling headphones and in-seat power. But there are subtle differences.
The colour combinations are quite different with VA going for the youthful white and purple while QF have gone for the classier wood/metal look.
The actual seat: both are wide and comfy, and of course, fold flat. QF’s was more adjustable and came with adjustable lumbar support and a massage feature (which didn’t feel like it did much to me). QF’s option of the semi-reclined position on takeoff/landing is nice too. QF’s seat was a soft leather while VA’s was a coarse cloth.
Our member did comment that Qantas had a much better selection of movies and other in-flight entertainment.
The service on both flights met expectations. Our member observed that the Qantas service was a little more personable with the flight attendants calling each passenger by name. But an honorary mention goes out to the Virgin crew who took the time to explain the features of the business suite to each passenger.
All things considered, our member says that they marginally preferred the flight on Qantas.
Over-all, both were a pleasant experience although I probably prefer the Qantas offering with the IFE being a major factor (it’s almost 5hours from SYD to PER).
Despite some of the small product differences, we’re very lucky in Australia. Both Qantas and Virgin have two of the world’s best domestic business class products. In the battle of the Business class, it seems that we ultimately have one winner… the Australian flying public!
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