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Virgin Blue – waiting for take-off?

By Dave_K 26 February 2008 17

Flew out of Canberra to Sydney on Friday night on one of the new Virgin Blue flights. The usual Friday night pandemonium at the Qantas end of the building with the Dash-8 flights to Sydney being cancelled or running late. The new Virgin Embraer jet was one-third full, left on time, arrived on time. Flew back to town this morning. This time, the 70-seat jet had no more than a couple of dozen people on board. Left on time; arrived on time. Sweet. But why aren’t more people getting on board? One of the cabin crew said new routes always take time to build up, but I have this sinking feeling we could end being a one-airline town again. I have no private interest in Virgin’s success in Canberra, other than never, ever wanting to be held hostage to the the whims of Qantas again.

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17 Responses to
Virgin Blue – waiting for take-off?
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sepi 11:22 am 27 Feb 08

I always try to book virgin flights via Quantas booking service that our dept has a contract with.

Not surprisingly it is always easier to to book Qantas.

I liked Impulse with the free white wine and a paper and the sheepskin seat covers.

ASP 10:44 pm 26 Feb 08

Government has contracts with QANTAS. I think they need to spread them around more. They sent some business the way of the doomed Impulse Airlines and they were complete hacks, no lounge and they served Smiths Crisps and White Wine on the flights. I think Virgin deserves some govvie business just as much.

diprotodon 8:55 pm 26 Feb 08

Remove the FBT concessions attached to Qantas Club membership and Virgin will become a lot more popular for the business traveller.
Remove status from the government contracts, and suddenly its an almost level playing field.
Until that point in time – I and my wife will do our darndest to accrue status, and keep that Gold Frequent Flyers going at taxpayer’s expense – its a lot more handy than the Virgin Blue scheme.

Felix the Cat 8:23 pm 26 Feb 08

I’m a very infrequent airline passenger but flew to Melb on Virgin Blue a while back and found it quite good, no probs. The only problem was the exorbitant prices charged by the airport shops (both Canb & Melb) on pretty much everything.

needlenose 2:13 pm 26 Feb 08

Maelinar – in general circumstances I would agree, but when connecting between long hot flights wearing long hot suits, access to a shower is the best thing imaginable (for the passenger sitting next to me as well as for me, I suspect). If I’ve got a two hour gap between San Francisco – Sydney and Sydney – Canberra then a shower is a godsend,

Also, it’s not one of those ten cent “engaged” locks on a door a good limbo dancer could get under – more like a decent hotel bathroom. So it’s also a few blessed minutes of privacy.

Apart from that I agree that Qantas Club is not worth a lot any more. Food pretty ordinary (though coffee is OK), very hard to get access to a computer – or a chair, for that matter. If I’m travelling for work then I’m not drinking, either. And they’re beginning to replace the complimentary magazines with shops where you have to buy them, which is rubbish.

When it’s quiet, it’s great – you can get a magazine, a drink, a coffee and curl up in front of a TV or check your webmail – but that’s a very rare occurrence now.

Mælinar 1:34 pm 26 Feb 08

and you can have a shower – I’ve never understood this concept. I generally ensure that I have had a shower before I arrive at the airport, regardless of what time in the morning my departure is.

I consider it completely unfathomable to nude up in an airport with a 10c lock between you and the outside world.

flying doormat 12:38 pm 26 Feb 08

Ferret your an idiot – if everyone drove up to Sydney they wouldnt be able to use the clean toilets and showers that come with the priveledge of the qantas membership. I might add that its not all rosey in the qantas lounge as pointed out by Gungahlin Al, the food is not real good, and sometimes the unwashed even get in there. What is happening to this great nation that is now allowing anyone into the qantas lounge!

darkmilk 10:33 am 26 Feb 08

Bring on a third option for flying: seaplanes!

Anyone know what killed that idea? It was mentioned a few years ago but obviously didn’t go anywhere. Pity, it would have been a great way to travel: straight from the lake to the harbour, flying low and slow to take in the views on the way.

gun street girl 10:25 am 26 Feb 08

GA: Have seen said “very strict regs” circumvented many times before. Just sayin’… 😉

Joe Canberran 10:22 am 26 Feb 08

Take in to account taxi costs and check in times and yes driving to sydney wins almost every time. the only time I’d think otherwise would be if I had connecting flights

Growling Ferret 10:15 am 26 Feb 08

Al – I am a humble PS myself – and I guarentee that our high flyers would not lower themselves to travelling cattle class at someone elses expense. The Toad is right – much of it is about the free meal and the free grog.

Its cheaper and quicker to drive from Canberra to the majority of Sydney (especially from Gungahlin) than to fly. Too many people are too lazy though…

Gungahlin Al 10:14 am 26 Feb 08

GSG: very strict regs against use of frequent flyer points for personal use.
Toad: you visited Sydney or Melbourne lounges recently?? Plenty of “great unwashed” there too. Packed in like sardines actually. But at least the dunnies actually get cleaned and you can have a shower…

gun street girl 10:09 am 26 Feb 08

I suspect the accumulation of frequent flyer points is what might clinch it for Qantas with regards to their govie flights.

Personally, I’d sooner have a service which doesn’t regularly cancel flights, and which runs to time, rather than spend time in a lounge (which, incidentally, has standing room only at peak hour) while I wait for my thrice re-scheduled flight to leave.

barking toad 10:08 am 26 Feb 08

Get real Gungadhin.

The only reason Govt. departments got involved with the likes of Qantas Club was because they were conned by the punters about the “need” to have access to meeting rooms (and now internet etc) for work purposes in a sweet environment away from the great unwashed.

The real reason was access to free piss.

And I know this from experience in setting up a very early corporate membership.

Gungahlin Al 9:44 am 26 Feb 08

Get stuffed Ferret.

The reason is that when Virgin pulled out of the Canberra Sydney route, it left us all with no option but to lock ourselves into Qantas. If you think that plugging away at a notebook PC in a Qantas Club is a snout in a trough you are sadly mistaken.

When you have to travel regularly, you quickly learn that it is the net access and clean facilities that make the lounge worthwhile – certainly the food is nothing to rave about, and barely an improvement on the cardboard served in-flight.

b2 9:43 am 26 Feb 08

Virgin now has a club/lounge at Canberra airport

Growling Ferret 9:31 am 26 Feb 08

Because Virgin does not have a Qantas Club.

Its Ministers, Min Staffers, and those who don’t pay their own bills. Virgin is for private travellers… Qantas is there for the pigs with their snouts in the trough.

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