The introduction of a new domestic business class in May this year sees Virgin Blue adding yet another category of seating into the business travel mix.
With the Etihad and Air New Zealand alliances inked, a partnership with US carrier Delta in the works and potentially an Asian airline later this year, international travellers on Virgin Blue will find themselves encountering an array of seats and services as they move between members of what some call ‘the Borghetti Alliance’.
Australian Business Traveller asked Virgin Blue chief John Borghetti if he was concerned about this lack of product consistency across so many partners.
“I don’t know any airline that has one consistent product experience” Borghetti ponders. “Airlines are forever conducting refits and retrofits due to the nuclear arms race of product, which is always escalating.”
“What’s important is that the standards are very high across airplanes and across airlines. And that’s why we’ve been very careful in choosing partners who place a similarly high value on product, otherwise you can do real damage your brand.”
As to his own weapons in this arms race, Borghetti believes that Virgin Blue's leather business class seats, with their 62 inches of legroom and seatback video screens are "the best domestic business class in the market". That's of course sidestepping the Skybeds on international-grade Boeing 747s which Qantas will run six days per week between Sydney and Perth from April.
However the new domestic economy class seats, and whatever Virgin Blue has slated for trans-Tasman flights, remain under wraps for now.
Coverage of Virgin Blue's overhaul
Australian Business Traveller's comprehensive coverage of 'the new Blue' also includes:
- New business class seats will launch in May on Sydney-Perth flights with 62 inches of legroom and seat-back video screens
- Virgin Blue will be opening three new domestic lounges, as well as upgrading the Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane lounges, with Sydney getting a special fast-track lounge for premium passengers
- Stylish new uniforms for Virgin Blue flight attendants and crew which play up the airline’s palette of red, silver and purple
- CEO John Borghetti says inflight Internet will be available as soon as possible, likely within 2 - 3 years
- The Velocity Rewards programme is set for an extensive overhaul, including a points tie-up with Etihad