Virgin on the competition

Having recently struck a £23.1 million deal with official airline of the Middle East, Etihad Virgin Australia are aiming to ground Quantas with 23 flights a week to Abu Dhabi.

Traveller Mark Forster hitched a ride from Sydney to Abu Dhabi on “Richards Branson’s Quantas Killer”:

The omens weren’t good to start with however after 13 hours Virgin Australia managed to work it’s way into my top three airlines with ease.

Having both a business class and economy ticket allowed me to experience both sides of the coin with Richard Bransons Quantas killer, however my first impressions were more Donkey than Donkey Kong.

The business class lounge which was shared with other members of the alliance (Air New Zealand, Etihad etc) was in need of a refurb, scratched walls, cracked glasses and a poor selection of food and beverage were encountered after I eventually got in. Staff were very unwilling to allow my plus one in for free and demanded that we pay $50 (aud) for admission . Which for the six hours I spent in there was probably worth it, just for comfort and wifi rather than anything else.

Upon boarding the fully booked 747-300 (in economy) I was greeted by smiling staff and a basic amenity set of eye mask, ear plugs etc on my seat. Which had slightly more room than the standard economy offering.

An entertaining safety video (something that seems big with Australasian airlines ) introduced us to the Inflight Entertainment System RED. A combination of hardware and software that may not have the content depth of Emirates, British airways or rivals Quantas but is a million times more responsive and easier to use. In fact I’d go as far to say the most responsive I’ve experienced in well over 100 flights.

Food was what you come to expect on a long haul flight. Across the industry it’s getting better and my butter chicken with rice was definitely at the upper end of the standard. Drinks were offered regularly and for the first time in recent memory I turned down the offer of another soft drink. Something I would definitely rather do than spend the entire flight peering down the aisle looking for a drinks trolley.

Keep it up Virgin Australia.

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