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Is it true: Qantas cheaper than Virgin Australia for flights to Perth?

By danwarne     Filed under: qantas, economy, tickets, pricing, domestic, ticket prices, economy class, inflight meals, meals, SYD-PER, PER-SYD, Virgin Australia, power points, Sydney to Perth, Perth to Sydney

Qantas chief Alan Joyce, a former Ryanair executive, took a swipe at Virgin Australia's roster of add-on prices in his announcement of Qantas' 747s launching on the East Coast to Perth route a couple of days ago.

"Qantas is a cut above the competition when it comes to offering value for money for leisure travellers with the price of their all-inclusive ticket which includes baggage, seat selection, Neil Perry influenced menu across both Business and Economy cabins, and inflight entertainment during their flight," he said.

Given Virgin Australia's very keen pricing, we were surprised by this claim, and decided to put it to the test.

Of course, Joyce must have been referring to discount economy tickets, because flexible and business class tickets are already all inclusive (baggage and meal) with Virgin Australia -- and Virgin's pricing on those is definitely cheaper than Qantas.

We looked up a fare on the same day -- 30 days from now -- and added 23KG of baggage for $12 and a "Qantas equivalent meal" to the Virgin Australia ticket. We defined this meal as the following Virgin menu items:

  • Milk chocolate M&Ms: $3.00
  • Luke Mangan Braised Beef: $10.00
  • Cheese & Crackers: $4.00
  • Jasper Coffee: $3.00
  • Pepsi: $3.00
  • Australian white wine: $8.00
  • Total price: $31

How the Qantas pricing stacked up

OUTBOUND

  • SYD-PER 0810 QF575 Base fare $199
  • 23KG Baggage included (but limited to one bag)
  • Meal included. 
  • Credit card booking fee $7.70

RETURN

  • PER-SYD 1220 QF580 Base fare $199
  • 23KG Baggage included (but limited to one bag)
  • Meal included. 
  • Credit card booking fee $0 ($7.70 per-booking fee covers return leg)

TOTAL: $405.70

How Virgin Australia's pricing stacked up

OUTBOUND

  • SYD-PER 0800 DJ553 base fare $158
  • Baggage $12 (23KG, no limit on number of bags)
  • Credit card booking fee $4.50
  • Qantas-equivalent meal: $31

RETURN

  • PER-SYD 1300 DJ560 base fare $158
  • Baggage $12 (23KG, no limit on number of bags)
  • Credit card booking fee $4.50
  • Qantas-equivalent meal: $31

TOTAL: $411.00

So, Alan Joyce is correct -- the all-inclusive discount economy fare on Qantas is $5.30 cheaper than Virgin Australia.

Whether Qantas keeps prices low on the Perth run remains to be seen -- a few months ago, its fares were $50 more return, and in the last few years, it's been easy to spend $650 on a return economy flight to Perth with Qantas. (The wonders of effective competition...) 

The intangible factors...

Meal: If you ordered a less comprehensive meal on Virgin, the trip would be cheaper. Quality of food between the two airlines is another factor for debate -- but Virgin does say that its food is all fresh, not frozen, whereas Qantas has conceded that economy class meals are stored frozen and thawed en-masse. 

Entertainment: Qantas currently has much better on-demand inflight entertainment for economy customers on the Perth route than Virgin does, which only offers a selection of movies on a loop -- meaning you'll almost certainly miss the beginning of something you want to watch during the flight.

Virgin is on the cusp of introducing a new inflight entertainment system on its planes, though, so that will soon change -- and it's a problem easily fixed by loading up your iPad with some choice selections to watch on the plane.

Laptop power: Qantas also offers power points for economy seats on some of its planes on the way to and from Perth (only the Airbus A330s, though, not the 747s). Virgin does not offer power points for economy class passengers (or even business class).

Baggage: Virgin has the distinct advantage of allowing any number of bags up to a maximum combined weight of 23KG -- very handy if you need to transport some small items along with your suitcase. From today, Qantas limits customers to just one bag in economy.

What do you think?

Is Qantas really better value at $5.30 cheaper than Virgin Australia? Would you pay the extra $5 to fly Virgin?  Let us know in the comments below.

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About danwarne

Dan is a tech enthusiast who frequently qualifies for enhanced airport security screening due to the number of cords and gadgets stuffed into his cabin bag.

 

Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 1/6/11 by lazybones1987

I have to disagree with you on this article Dan. The comparison that you have made is for one "random day". A better analysis would be to look at the historical pricing of Qantas and Virgin on the same routes for a certain time and also the average selling price for the same routes. This would give you a true picture of who offers a better price for the route.

If I picked another "random day" for comparing the same route and If I find Qantas to be expensive than Virgin (even after purchasing "meals"), would you then rewrite your article to state that Virgin offers cheaper fares?

1 on 1/6/11 by danwarne

Generally I would agree with your points, except for a few things:

  • Looking at historical pricing isn't really relevant given this article examines pricing from the date that Virgin introduced its A330s onto the Perth route, giving Qantas much tougher competition in terms of service delivery.
  • The fares to Perth with Qantas and Virgin Australia are fairly consistent at the moment provided you book far enough in advance... $158 with Virgin and $199 with Qantas. Of course these are 'lead in' fares, and as individual flights fill up they will increase for those flights, but I think otherwise the comparison is fair. 

2 on 1/6/11 by Jack

Virgin :)

3 on 1/6/11 by AusFlyer

I'd pay more to fly Qantas just so I don't have to fly Virgin. I have never had a good experience on them and avoid them where possible!

4 on 2/6/11 by Chloeglow

Definately would still choose Virgin. The extra $5 is worth the smiles and the better service I'd get at Qantas. That could definately make or break a 5 hr flight for me.  Last time i flew business class from sydney to brisbane, i got a roast beef panini (dry and quite unpleasant to eat and hardly gourmet to me) with crackers, and Poor attitude of staff on boarding, at the lounge and onboard. Difference is, Virgin make you feel appreciated more often then when Qantas staff make you feel like a hassle to serve. Very unhappy looking workers and it shows through their level of service!

5 on 3/6/11 by jenki

I'd choose Virgin everytime - the flight attendants are always lovely and smiling and helpful. The attitude of the staff is completely different to that of Qantas. Give Virgin staff a payrise - they deserve it!

6 on 6/6/11 by abryan

I fly Virgin everywhere and will continue to for a time to come. Not only do their staff seem more accommodating but I think their product is of a world standard. The overhaul to their lounges, new inflight entertainment systems (to come) and brand new aircraft means that they are looking for a larger market share and are serious about getting it. Not only that, their Velocity Rewards program is free and that suits me just fine.

Qantas dont impress me at all, their aircraft are much older and their staff do not seem interested in being at work. Their unions are hell bent on ruining Xmas and nearly any descent holiday during the year by staging strikes disrupting thousands of people per day.

I am yet to experience this with Virgin as yet.....

 

7 on 9/2/14 by Leslie

An update to this article would be interesting!

8 on 26/3/14 by franz

Not sure.We don't have the A330's to Perth out of Adelaide so the gap is narrowed.But there are areas where one can save.Go to either a Prices Bakery or other similar type place if flying Virgin to get your sandwich/rolls and bottle of drink to stow in the fridge the day before flying and take it with you on the plane.Works out cheaper than the food on the plane.Credit Card fee doesn't apply if you book the flights via the helloworld agent site online.

 

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