Saturday, August 31, 2013

Vietnam Airlines - Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap : Airbus A321 Economy Class

My last few posts I have been talking about Australian domestic flying, so let's mix it up a bit and have a quick look at a  flight I took 2 months back from Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap, probably one of the most expensive 45 minute flights I've taken in my life at almost $200 one way! They sure know how to rip off the tourists heading for Angkor Wat!! I doubt many locals would pay that, most would take the bus.


Monday, August 26, 2013

The Battle of the Transcontinental Business Class: Conclusion

After my recent experiment of flying both Virgin Australia and Qantas in business class on the trans-continental run between Melbourne and Perth I am going to discuss a few of the pros and cons of each.



SEATS

Winner: Virgin Australia

Despite Qantas offering some flights with their international skybeds, the vast majority of services are operated by A330's with recliners with very poor pitch and some have seven abreast seating with a middle seat blocked for extra space. So this one is a very easy win to Virgin who offer either an angled lie flat seat or a very deep reclining international style business class seat with fabulous pitch.


SCHEDULE

Winner: Qantas

Qantas have more options with more daily flights and almost all are A330s. On weekends Virgin has been putting in quite a few B737-800's with much lower standard seating.

CATERING

Winner: Qantas

The overall catering experience with Qantas was better. I much prefer the proper table service with table cloth and each component being placed on the table and not coming on a tray. It's just a classier arrangement. Also, there was more food and more choice. I was disappointed to be offered ONLY a dessert and not both cheese AND dessert on Virgin... on Qantas this was not a problem.

I did enjoy the full menu and wine list that came in a large booklet on Virgin, it was far superior to the flimsy piece of paper I was handed on Qantas with no separate wine list.

The wines on Qantas I felt were better however Virgin Australia did offer champagne including as a pre departure drink whereas Qantas only offered an Australian sparkling and there was no sign of it during boarding.

AMENITIES

Winner: Virgin Australia

Virgin is a clear winner in this department. They offered both a basic amenity kit and some decent hand creams in the lavatory (by Grown). Qantas offered no amenity kit and only basic handwash in the toilet. Qantas did however offer cotton towels instead of the paper towels offered by Virgin.

SERVICE

Winner: None

I have to say both airlines provided superb service in the air despite the very different crews. Qantas crews were more 'mature' in years but very polished and very friendly. Virgin offer a slightly younger crew and have a slightly more 'fun' attitude but it's by no means over the top. I enjoyed the service on both airlines. The Qantas crew were not as pro active in offering wine topups as the Virgin crew however the Qantas crew had more people to serve as it was a fuller flight.

LOUNGES

Winner: Virgin

I used both the Virgin Lounge at Melbourne and Qantas Club in Perth. I think Virgin was slightly better in decor and I preferred my barista coffee being served in proper china and not a paper cup. However if Qantas opened a lounge in Perth at the standards of the Qantas business class lounges in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra then Qantas would win.


OVERALL

I am not going to declare a winner here as both airlines have their pros and cons. I think if Qantas upgrade to angled lie flats on the entire domestic A330 fleet then they would be the better choice. Until that time Virgin is very competitive with seating but just needs to slightly lift the game with catering. Both airlines are offering a great service and thanks to the competition between them the clear winner is US.... the passengers!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Battle of The Transcontinental Business Class : Virgin Australia vs Qantas (Part 2)

PART 2 : QANTAS

Following on from Part 1 this part shows the return to Melbourne, this time on Qantas.

FLIGHT:                    QF772
ROUTE:                     Perth to Melbourne
AIRCRAFT:              Airbus A330-200 VH-EBM
SEAT:                         2A (Business Class)

DEPARTURE:          10.00 (Scheduled)  09.55 (Actual)
ARRIVAL:                15.30 (Schedules)  14.55 (Actual) 35 Minutes Early!



VH-EBM at the gate
Upon arrival at the terminal I proceeded straight through security and up to the lounge. Priority security screening was available for Business Class and Platinum card holders although at 9am on this Monday the line was almost empty so it was not required. The lounge is 'airside' meaning you don't need to factor in a security check after leaving the lounge for the aircraft. Perth has just a single Qantas Club and no separate business class lounge but I found it to be quite decent. It is large and has nice tarmac views from the upper level of their terminal.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Battle of The Transcontinental Business Class : Virgin Australia vs Qantas (Part 1)



INTRODUCTION

The days of Qantas' monopoly of the business and premium travel market between the east and west coast of Australia are now well and truly over. Since Virgin Australia's introduction of their domestic Airbus A330 in 2011 it has been an increasingly intense competition between the 2 carriers as to who can offer the best product, not only in business class but also in economy.

Virgin have moved away from a low cost offering to a full service product in economy on its trans-con flights with meals and drinks included in direct competition with Qantas. Virgin have branded the new product the 'Coast to Coast' service

Both carriers now also operate the majority of their flights between Perth and Sydney or Melbourne with widebody Airbus A330s. However, depending on which aircraft you get on the day both airlines have wildly varying configurations on the seats! At this stage Qantas is operating with at least 3 different seat types in business and Virgin has 2.  I will go into more detail in each of my reviews.

Now, let's get to Part 1 : Virgin Australia on Melbourne to Perth

Emirates A380 First Class Video

I recently flew on the Emirates A380 in First Class. I was very impressed and decided to upload a video. I will follow up soon with a full trip report but in the mean time, check out the video:


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Thai Airways Boeing 747-400 First Class : Bangkok to Sydney TG475

Earlier on in the year I took a flight on Thai's 747 in First Class from Bangkok to Sydney. This is not going to be a full review but a quick run down of the Royal First experience. The flight was operated on an aircraft configured with 10 First Class seats which is typical for the Sydney run and half of the Thai 747 fleet is configured this way. The other half are now in a 'suites' configuration but mostly those aircraft fly to Europe and Japan.