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Qantas vs Virgin Australia: how satisfied are you?

By David Flynn     Filed under: qantas, customer satisfaction, Virgin Australia

Earlier today we reported on the latest customer satisfaction figures for Australian airlines, based on polling conducted by Roy Morgan Research, which saw Virgin Australia closing the gap on Qantas.

Roy Morgan casts a wide and decidedly mainstream net, which got us to wondering how Australia's most frequent flyers – the people with a very high degree of exposure to each airline – felt in the satisfaction stakes.

After all, so much can vary from one flight to the next. There are also on-the-ground factors ranging from lounges to frequent flyer schemes.

So as 2011 winds down we're asking AusBT readers to look back on the year – and comment on their own satisfaction, or otherwise, in the Qantas v Virgin stakes.

Which airline has done right by you through 2011 and has earned your business going into the new year? Has your experience of Qantas or Virgin Australia noticeably changed over this tumultuous year? Or are both falling short of the mark?

Have your say in the comments box below or join the converstation on Twitter – we're @AusBT!

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About David Flynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

 

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1 on 19/12/11 by Liam

Overall, I have to say that onboard an aircraft, Virgin Australia apperars to have better levels of service. The staff seem to be much more positive and full of energy, while being professional. It's not unusual to be greeted by name as serve you.

However, when things go wrong, (One Aircraft Broken, an Ash Cloud grounding the main ports, or an entire airline shut down) Qantas has a lot more resources and more experience in getting you to where you need to go. They seem to be able to get you home much quicker than Virgin Australia can. To me, that is a very important factor when choosing an airline. How quickly can I get home.

A coupld of times I've rocked up to Virgin Australia's Premium Security in Sydney (Which is great) to be told my flight was cancelled and there isn't any seats left today, No call, text or email. If I knew it was cancelled I could have caught an earlier flight, where there might have been spare seats. Virgin actually had to put me up in a hotel once because of this. I know for a fact Qantas would never cancel a flight and leave me only to find out once I arrive at the airport.

1 on 19/12/11 by SidJames

I decided to switch my domestic travel to Virgin following Qantas' inability to provide priority boarding domestically, and the degradation of benefits for platinum frequent flyers.

So far I have been very impressed by the customer service at Virgin. Perhaps more importantly Virgin seems to want to adapt and improve. The lounges are good, and I enjoyed business class on the SYD-PER route.

Virgin will be getting a fair bit more of my business in 2012.

2 on 19/12/11 by chrisjrn

Domestically, I've flown pretty much exclusively on Virgin this year. when things go well, Virgin's level of service is miles ahead of Qantas'.

But then I had the misfortune of trying to coordinate connecting flights between their domestic and international arms during the ash cloud grounding -- it's clear that there's a distinct lack of coordination between the two arms (e.g. international customers were not advised of inter-airport trasport services offered to domestic customers).  Their key alliances are also a bit poorly implemented at the moment (flight reminder notices not appearing on SkyWest-operated flights, for example).

Virgin definitely need to work on improving their processes for when things go wrong, and for people flying off their mainline network.  Otherwise, things have been pretty good.

3 on 19/12/11 by Al

I totally agree with Liam and Chris. I chose to shift my domestic business travel to Virgin this year, giving the new guys a chance and also over Qantas being a bit lazy due to lack of real competition, and I've been very happy with them all up but I can see a few areas where they need to improve. As Liam says it's all about how much muscle you can put to work when things go wrong. That said, I was on a flight from Brisbane to Sydney which was cancelled because it would have arrived after Sydney's curfew and as a Platinum (thank you, QF status match!) I was pretty well looked after and the gate crew seemed to do a good job of taking care of everybody as best as they could not easy in a situation like that of course!

Anyway Virgin gets my vote for my business!

1 on 19/12/11 by David

Al, if your cancelled BNE-SYD flight was towards the end of October then I think I was on the same one. If so then yes, at least from what I saw and experienced as Velocity Platinum (and from what I saw of the Virgin gate & lounge team looking after some others, who I think were Golds) they did very well under very trying circumstances.

Haven't been on any cancelled QF flights this year - had a delay for an international flight out of Sydney but (i) I didn't have any time-critical connections or pressing meetings at the other end; and (b) I was in the First lounge and didn't mind the chance to grab an extra coffee & dessert!

Overall, speaking solely on my own behalf as an individual flyer, I've been pretty satisfied with both Qantas and Virgin on domestic flights (and am especially loving the upgraded Qantas Business Lounges).

4 on 19/12/11 by flyingroo

The onboard product i have experienced with Virgin has left me wondering what the hype is about. Granted it was sold to me as 'premium economy', but with the new business class lay out. No curtain seperating the cabin meant that economy passengers were lining up waiting for the bathroom, leaving the 'premium' passengers to either wait or go to the back of the aircraft. The dining options were limited and presented rather poorly, the Luke Mangan pie was presented wrapped in plasitc, on a plastic plate. Again, i know it was 'premium economy' but of the price i paid i could have gotten better service in a true business class on Qantas. The secotr was BNE-MEL.

1 on 19/12/11 by chrisjrn

So to answer your question, that's the product that's not going to exist after January next year.  It's crap, and that's why they're getting rid of it...

2 on 19/12/11 by Liam

I'm not going to try and defend Virgin here, but maybe we can wait and judge their business class product after it exists in mid January?

5 on 19/12/11 by AusFlyer

I have to say that Virgin has failed to impress me time after time. I flew with them at the beginning of the year and then again recently and both times the service w that has been so hyped about didn't deliver. Even on their new Business class on the A330. Qantas... Well they are a bit hit and miss, although having said that I has brilliant flights recently that has renewed my faith in them.... I mean the flights (4 domestic and 4 international in the last 6 weeks) were brilliant. The crews were fantastic and friendly and the service from check in to getting off the plane was great. Now if all Qantas flights are going to be like that then Virgin won't be seeing me on their planes again anytime soon!

6 on 19/12/11 by diverboy

I flew Business Class return to Perth from Sydney a couple of weeks ago and was very impressed with Virgin. The A330 was very comfortable, food fresh and wine selection very enjoyable. I fly exclusively Virgin for business and am very happy with the product especially seeing it develop over the last 3 years and more recelntly under John Borghetti's leadership.

I can only see things getting better - I must be lucky as I've never had a flight cancelled and rarely are they delayed.

7 on 19/12/11 by djb

tried virgin for first time recently after the status match offer, made 3 flights including one business on the 330 perth to sydney and was very impressed.

qantas seems on the back leg recently and the attitude of the staff seems  to reflect this fact. in contrast virgin generates a more positive  & comfortable, attitude in its staff interaction with passengers

8 on 19/12/11 by Jack

Virgin.

1 on 19/12/11 by thewinchester

Jack: One what basis? A one word reply with a name on an airline without any justification for why you express it gives us no value.

1 on 19/12/11 by Jack

It's pretty obvious that qantas is crap, dont need to write how virgin is better cause it is. Also "thewinchester" pull that stick out of your ass, i dont care what you say, get a life.

1 on 19/12/11 by John

Let's keep it civil, please, people.

9 on 19/12/11 by jonom

Virgin

10 on 19/12/11 by tonywills

Virgin are way out in front for me. I have all but stopped flying Qantas. For the 1st time in 12 years I am going to let my Qantas Club go as I have become a Lounge member and watch my status rise with Virgin. The Qantas Clubs are sometimes more crouded than the general terminal and many things untidy and left undone. Virgin Australia has Singapore Airlines as a partner soon and Business class is about to lauch across the fleet in January - that is about all I need to maintain loyalty in the first instance. Now let's look at Qantas recently. I have had far too many inappropriate interactions with rude staff in the air and on the ground with inflexibility and poor insight as the main drivers for dissatisfaction. The Qantas fleet is very tired and old. My last flights with Qantas were on a 767 - a lovely aircraft, but not when it is over 25 years old,  flying frequent rotations between Sydney and Melbourne - not comforting for me I'm afraid. The other was an ex Australian Airlines 737-400 - please put these old Aircraft to rest Qantas. V Australia service is impeccable and very highly rated, especially in Business class and the 777-300ER is clearly way out in front as my 1st choice aircraft - a game changer that Qantas chose to ignore - very silly. Virgin is quickly evolving into a slick full service airline and once tey iron out a few of the minor issues raised in other posts, they will leave Qantas for dead for me.

11 on 20/12/11 by KC

I fully agree with others that there are aspects to Virgin that need to upgraded and some of those are very very important to business travellers. However, they do actually appear to be doing it a step at a time. At least the implementation of new products and services appears to be being done in a considered manner and they are communicating with their high value guests on a regular basis. When something goes wrong at Virgin I do feel as though the appology is genuine and they at least appear to be doing something about it. As for ability to recover from delays and cancellations this is their biggest weakness, however I recognise that new aircraft and larger (eg their new A330's arriving in 2012,) can not be acquired in the click of a finger!

I am fully supportive of their efforts to transform to a full service carrier but retaining the ability for people to choose to just have a seat with no trimmings. This means my friends who aren't as lucky as me to be financially secure enough to travel Premium or business can also enjoy VA's services.

I really feel for the crew at QF though, they have tired aircraft and a slipping product, and worst of all a management who really don't seem to know how to engage their teams! But that doesn't excuse their curt off handed manner in which I've been treated more than once.

JB at VA is making amazing headway in such a short space of time that I will support VA as best I can as I see it becoming the premier product in AUS.

I also thank ABT for the continuing articles giving honest comparisons of the two main players...unbiassed reporting is rarely seen in the media, with the often footnoted "person XXXX travelled courtesy of airline X".

Thumbs up Virgin, keep up the effort and you'll make it there.

12 on 17/1/12 by sagidec

Forgive me for my shallowness, but Virgin Australia's flight attendants are people to look at. :)

 

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