Virgin Australia beats Qantas for business travel, says survey

Virgin Australia beats Qantas for business travel, says survey

Virgin Australia has pulled ahead of Qantas in the battle for business traveller's hearts, wallets and bums, according to the latest Roy Morgan Air Travel Survey.

The market research firm reports that 86% of domestic business travellers polled in July 2013 said they were 'satisfied' or 'very satisfied' with Virgin Australia, compared to 77% two years earlier at a time when Virgin was still a low-cost carrier.

Satisfaction for Qantas, however, has declined from 88% in July 2011 to 82% in July 2013.

The rolling survey of almost 2,000 travellers embraces not only each airline's business class seating and service but other aspects such as airport lounges and frequent flyer programs.

Virgin has suffered more highs and lows over those two years, with a roller-coaster ride taking the airline's satisfaction ratings from the low 70s to just shy of 90%.

Qantas, on the other hand, suffered its biggest fall during the industrial troubles in the second half of 2011 and the airline's subsequent worldwide grounding in October 2011.

Apart from a resurgence in early 2012 the Red Roo's satisfaction rating has generally trended downwards until the start of this year.

As of July 2013, both Qantas and Virgin Australia were on the up, indicating that business travellers generally felt better about their experiences on both airlines.

Readers: channel your inner Mick Jagger and tell us which airline gives you satisfaction – is it Qantas or Virgin Australia?

Get the latest updates for business traveller and frequent flyers: follow @AusBT on Twitter.

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.


  • Michael Briggs


    28 Aug, 2013 04:28 pm

    Doesn't surprise me one bit, flown on both airlines 738 and was much more impressed with virgin. They seem so much more lively and pleasant. But that may just be me.

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  • russell


    28 Aug, 2013 04:34 pm

    While I generally only fly Qantas, this does not surprise me. Flew PER-MEL in J on VA a month back and was very impressed. Totally blows Qantas away in domestic J. The only thing that was a let down was the lounge in Perth. Its a shocker.

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  • tronek


    28 Aug, 2013 06:34 pm

    I was chatting to the lounge staff in Perth just a couple of weeks ago, and as I understand it, they have not given it the purple and white overhaul we have seen in major Eastern airports because they are building a whole new Virgin terminal (between the International and new regional terminal), due to open some time next year. There's little point in the financial investment and the inevitable disruption caused by closures when it will only be used for another 12 months or so before the red roo bounces in.

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  • charlieg


    28 Aug, 2013 04:44 pm

    Be interesting to see how many business class seats were filled on each airline. I typically fly early morning and evening flights for best use of time, and i still see qantas business cabin full at least 90% of the time, but virgin business cabin rarely is at 50% capacity. Couldnt comment on the majority of 'day' flights though. Be glad of others comments...

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  • Noob


    28 Aug, 2013 04:58 pm

    I think it would be very strange (and very worrying for QF) if that wasn't the case.

    I think when VA was rebranded & relaunched they said  it's goal is to have a larger share of the business market, not to be the 'biggest' or the dominant player.

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  • Skipp


    29 Aug, 2013 07:29 am

    Many business seats are filled up by Qantas staff travellers, if there are spare seats available, creating the look that it's full ( or near full). Virgin I hear don't allow as many staff members to travel at the pointy end. Maybe this could be the reason...

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  • Andy Kuramoto


    29 Aug, 2013 05:46 pm

    Having a few friends who work for VA, I can confirm that staff travelers do get J upgrades.

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  • Worldflyer90


    28 Aug, 2013 04:50 pm

    As much as I enjoy flying Virgin (Plat with both VA and QF), as I think that they beat Qantas hands-down coast to coast, Qantas remains my preference  on every other domestic route.

    Availability of flights and Qantas' ability to handle things during irregular operations is in my opinion much better. The lounge situation on the ground with Virgin isn't brilliant (I know many disagree with me) and the lack of recognition overseas without being a member of a big alliance is a little frustrating. I appreciate that Virgin has made great progress and that Rome wasn't built in a day, but Qantas still wins for me for now.

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  • Noob


    28 Aug, 2013 04:51 pm

    We're all going to have our personal preferences so I think the best thing to take away from this study is that we have two quality business friendly airlines.

    Which one is best for us really comes down to what we personally need, so it's hard to say from a distance which one is 'better' in real terms.

    It's also most probably the reason many people now feel they can share their business travel between the two airlines.

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  • RK

    Ryan K

    28 Aug, 2013 04:59 pm

    Having flown J class on both QF and VA in recent months, I found them both to be very good. However, IFE on the older QF 763 was ordinary, as was VA's 738 inflight entertainment options. It's impossible to eat a meal and watch the tablet device at the same time. The service by the FA's on bothy airlines was fantastic. One thing though, why would VA have invested so much into J class and not have a foot rest on their 737's is somewhat strange.

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  • johnaboxall


    29 Aug, 2013 07:24 am

    Yes - the missing footrest. Don't get me started on that. I've caught a few people about to put their fee up on the bulkhead last week - ugh. However through AFF we read that VA are starting research into a new seat, so that's something to look forward to. 

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  • Propofol88


    28 Aug, 2013 08:07 pm

    I am generally satisfied flying either airline, but I find QF to be a more 'complete' product than VA (ie. domestic business lounges, OW alliance, quality of business class seats, international connections, etc) and hence the airline I choose to fly if I can. But VA has the advantage on price (business class wise), ease at obtaining gold/platinum status, and a more lively and friendly cabin crew.

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  • Al Glidden


    28 Aug, 2013 09:39 pm

    As many people here may know I switched from Qantas to Virgin after VA introduced business class and did their 'status match'. I'm very satisifed with Virgin, but the few times I have had to fly Qantas domestic they have been okay too. East-west is still rubbish because of the A330 seats but the meals have certainly improved, and if you have Platinum status the Qantas Business Lounges are miles ahead of the Virgin Lounges.

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  • humanuscomotose


    29 Aug, 2013 08:38 am

    This report certainly bears our my own experience and that of family, many of whom travel extensively for business. My own view is that the Virgin domestic lounge in Sydney is far superior to the Qantas club domestic lounge. Moreover, my last few flights on Virgin I flew economy and was pleasantly surprised by the level of personal service. Qantas, on the other hand, seemed to take more interest in my boarding pass than they did me. The one thing I'd like to see Virgin adopt is a Qantas style streamlined checkin system (e.g. Q-chip cards, Q bag tags etc) but at this stage it's not a deal breaker for me.

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  • Hugo


    29 Aug, 2013 10:35 am

    This is what I don't get. I currently have status on Virgin but not Qantas, and maybe it's just a grass-is-greener situation but I think QF's lounges, which I can't access, are much better than Virgin's, which I can. 

    Qantas is much larger, has a bigger food and drink selection, and doesn't have that all-white vibe which looks cool in photos but looks more like a dentist's waiting room in practice. Crowds are about equal in my experience.

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  • logicbox


    29 Aug, 2013 02:35 pm

    VA hands down. QA feels very serious and old, and I'm quite okay not being tied to an alliance. Perhaps I'm a hipster ..?

    For context I'm an expat Aussie living in the United States, VA Platinum with flights mostly international, not AUS domestic. I may have a different view if I was regularly flying for biz in Australia, but I do doubt it.

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  • capitalstar


    30 Aug, 2013 10:51 am

    It amazes me that Qantas is able to achieve an 82% satisfaction rating for its domestic J class, and I'd have predicted the differential between the two carriers would be far greater than 4%.  In my experience, more than half of the planes flying east coast to Perth are configured with cramped, recliner-style seating, and the food and drinks service has still not reached VA levels. I've sworn off flying QF coast to coast until the new cabins come online - the prices they charge for the product they offer (on most flights) is ridiculous.

    On other shorter domestic flights, I think it's a closer call, although the sad, tired old seats on QF 734s and older 738s probably means VA wins there too.

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  • gippsflyer


    30 Aug, 2013 04:05 pm

    I began flying Virgin late last year, and after years flying Qantas, I've not regretted making the switch (not even after a couple of Qantas flights to check if I was missing much).

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  • Paulkai


    30 Aug, 2013 08:37 pm

    Andy, just to clarify qf staff can choose business class fares and pay more for their leisure travel, Virgin staff cannot. It's economy only for tech, cabin, groundcrew and engineers. I do miss the pointy end after working at Ansett for 10yrs.....but it's a different world now.

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23 Jul, 2019 09:03 am


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