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Review: Qantas vs. Virgin Australia Business Class on the Sydney-Melbourne Route

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Review: Qantas vs. Virgin Australia Business Class on the Sydney-Melbourne Route

Review: Qantas vs. Virgin Australia Business Class on the Sydney-Melbourne Route. In the competitive world of short-hop business class travel between Sydney and Melbourne, Qantas and Virgin Australia vie for the favor of travelers. With over 160 daily flights on this highly-traveled route, both airlines are deeply entrenched in this lucrative market. We compare the business class experience provided by these two major carriers.

Check-in

Virgin Australia offers a fast-track check-in service for business class passengers, as well as Velocity and Beyond members flying out of Sydney during weekday mornings. The Sydney T2 Premium Entry option expedites the process, whisking passengers from the curb to the Virgin Australia lounge in under two minutes. Qantas, on the other hand, lacks a similar service but provides a priority check-in queue to streamline the process at its domestic terminals.

Baggage

For most business travelers on the east coast routes, traveling light with carry-on luggage is common. Qantas permits a single carry-on bag up to 10kg or two smaller bags totaling 14kg, along with a personal item. In contrast, Virgin Australia’s domestic business class has a tighter allowance of 7kg for a single ‘standard piece,’ although you can bring two smaller bags of up to 7kg each or combine the standard piece with a 7kg garment bag. If you have checked luggage, both Qantas and Virgin allow two bags of up to 32kg each, or three bags for Qantas Platinum or Velocity Platinum status holders.

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Lounges

Access to lounges is a key aspect of the business class experience, and here, Qantas and Virgin differ significantly. Business class passengers and Velocity frequent flyers with Gold and Platinum status can access Virgin Australia lounges before and after their flights. Virgin’s Sydney lounge offers ample seating options and high-speed WiFi, with a breakfast buffet and a bar.

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Qantas takes a unique approach by providing two types of lounges: mainstream Qantas Clubs and dedicated Qantas Business Lounges in various capital cities. This dual strategy reduces crowding and offers a premium experience for high flyers. Qantas Business Lounges, like the one in Melbourne, offer a stylish, upmarket ambiance, and a diverse dining selection. However, some lounges may need upgrades.

Seat

Virgin Australia primarily operates Boeing 737s with eight recliner seats in business class. The seats are comfortable, with 49.5cm (19.5″) width, a 96.5cm (38″) pitch, and a 12.7cm (5″) recline. Unfortunately, they lack AC and USB power outlets. Qantas, on the other hand, offers a broader range of seat options, with Airbus A330 flights providing a significant upgrade in terms of space and amenities.

Dining

Virgin Australia offers a light breakfast on morning flights, featuring various options such as corn fritters and scrambled eggs. Qantas provides lunch options on specific routes, with diverse selections like Korean-style roast beef or chicken and leek pie. Qantas also offers complimentary spirits on select flights. Virgin serves pre-departure drinks, typically juice or sparkling water, and includes champagne on international routes.

WiFi & Entertainment

Virgin Australia offers free inflight WiFi for business class passengers, but the connection can be slow. Qantas provides free WiFi on its domestic 737 and A330 flights with faster speeds. Both airlines offer extensive entertainment options, but Qantas includes personal video screens on many seats.

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Price

For many travelers, price plays a significant role in choosing between airlines. At the time of writing, one-way business class fares for Virgin Australia range from $459 to $909, while Qantas business class fares range from $768 to $1,218. The choice between these carriers may be influenced by factors like aircraft type and individual preferences.

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Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways Plans to Offer Complimentary Starlink Internet Details Yet to Be Disclosed

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Qatar Airways Plans to Offer Complimentary Starlink Internet Details Yet to Be Disclosed

Qatar Airways Plans to Offer Complimentary Starlink Internet Details Yet to Be Disclosed. In a recent development, Qatar Airways, a long-standing user of Inmarsat-now-Viasat Global Xpress (GX) Ka-band satellite-based inflight connectivity service, has indicated its intention to offer SpaceX’s Starlink Aviation onboard Internet to its passengers on a complimentary basis. This offering will be accessible to passengers with a simple “one-click” process.

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Rollout on Specific Aircraft and Routes

According to an official press release from Qatar Airways, the low-latency In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) service will be introduced on “specific aircraft and routes.” The airline has also mentioned that they are currently in the pre-launch phase of the rollout strategy in collaboration with Starlink. SpaceX Vice President of Starlink Commercial Sales, Jonathan Hofeller, has expressed that Starlink is “set to support the entire Qatar Airways fleet.”

This news emerged following the APEX/IFSA Global EXPO event in Long Beach, where Qatar Airways Group’s Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. During this event, Starlink executives met with airline representatives in a nearby hotel.

Changing Landscape in In-Flight Connectivity

The Qatar Airways-Starlink collaboration signifies a shift in the in-flight connectivity landscape. Traditional GEO satellites are being challenged by Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellations like SpaceX’s Starlink. For example, Flexjet has announced plans to replace the Viasat hardware on some of its aircraft with Starlink.

Viasat acquisition of Inmarsat, coupled with these changes, has led to some Inmarsat value-added resellers reevaluating their positions. SITA, a service provider to Qatar Airways, has already disclosed its intention to exit the cabin connectivity market by January 2025.

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Seeking Clarity from Qatar Airways

Runway Girl Network reached out to Qatar Airways to seek clarification on several points. They inquired about:

  • Qatar Airways plan regarding the replacement of Inmarsat (now Viasat) GX inflight connectivity hardware with Starlink.
  • Whether Starlink will be deployed across Qatar Airways’ entire fleet.
  • Commencement dates for supplemental type certifications and Starlink installations.
  • Which aircraft type will be the first to receive the new hardware.
  • The impact of SITA’s decision to cease being a GX value-added reseller on Qatar Airways’ decision to select Starlink.
  • Qatar Airways’ plans for continuing to roll out Inmarsat GX on its 787-9s.

Qatar Airways Response

In response to these queries, a Qatar Airways spokesperson stated via email that they would keep Runway Girl Network updated on any future operational developments. In a follow-up exchange, when further clarity on the deal was sought, the spokesperson requested the removal of a specific phrase from their press release.

Implications and Future Plans

In the absence of comprehensive details, it seems logical for Qatar Airways to consider introducing Starlink initially on its 787-8s. This fleet has seen recent in-seat In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) upgrades but still lacks true broadband connectivity.

Once Starlink is operational on Qatar Airways aircraft, passengers can anticipate complimentary access to ultra-fast Wi-Fi speeds of up up to 350 Mbps, which can be used for various Internet-based services including video streaming, gaming, web browsing, and more. In contrast, the airline presently charges $10 for inflight access to its ‘Super Wi-Fi.

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Read Also: Qatar Airways Elevates In-Flight Connectivity with Starlink Partnership

Conclusion

Qatar Airways, in its press release, also proudly asserts its position as “the largest airline to collaborate with Starlink.” Other notable Starlink customers include Part 135 operator JSX, Hawaiian Airlines (launch delayed until early next year), airBaltic, and ZIPAIR.

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