Attention the Virgin Australia CEO – Mr John Borghetti:
Dear Mr Borghetti,
Let me state this. I am a massive Virgin fan. I love everything the brand stands for and my wife even bought me a ticket into space on Virgin Galactic for my 40th birthday – no. 293 in the world and flying sometime soon. I even got to run with the big big boss (Sir R) in the London Marathon last year and to hang with RB for 4 days last year at his retreat in Morocco was just awesome.
So big fan yes. However, last night I was a first time customer on Virgin Australia Business Class. The seriously delayed Brisbane to Perth flight – arrived at 1:40am into Perth!
Onto the story.
I have been flying business or first class domestically and internationally for the past 17 years. I have had millions of frequent flyer points/miles accumulated predominantly on Qantas or affiliates. I do about 100 – 130 flights per year for business or leisure. Rarely am I down the back and I think I am the type of customer you are targeting with your new Business class produce.
So last night was my first time Virgin flight on Virgin Business class. I have been on all the major airlines, the best aircraft and so called best service. Virgin has some of the best service around. Sarah my flight attendant was just super. She couldn’t have been better with what she had to work with. Mind you, I would have liked to have seen her in action on a full cabin – I was the only one in business class!
Good service – not a great product.
If you want to woo the travelling business & political community you have to provide something better than your competitor(s). Not just providing young vibrant types with nice smiles and service but a better product as well: For example…
• I checked into the Brisbane lounge at 7:15pm and asked for a Gin & Tonic – response was ‘no spirits’ – beer or wine only.
• The food in the Brisbane lounge from 7:15m – 9:15pm (flight delayed out your control) was at best ordinary. Toast, soup or make your own sandwich. Cheese & crackers ran out at 8pm with no replenishment. Not sure what was there for dinner time. Some ‘time poor’ travellers like me actually use the lounge as a meal replacement service you know. The food needs to be good.
• Wine selection was pretty substandard as well – no wine glasses at one stage.
• Your new planes have seats that don’t go back very far – not sure what the pitch is but 10% would have pulled it up. For a 5 hour 20 minute flight to Perth – not good enough.
• The lamb meal was cold and when I said a ‘red’ wine a tumbler like glass appeared with whatever was in it. No selection offered.
• With new planes what an opportunity to put power for laptops and wireless technology in. Alas – it’s economy with a larger seat and multiple the times the price.
• There is no inflight entertainment – not even a drop down screen.
• And last but not least there was no pillow. I had to ask for one and 10 minutes later it seemed like the only pillow on the entire plane arrived.
As a ‘full freight’ paying business class passenger I expect more. I gave it a try but I am in no hurry (other than my booked flight home) to give it another. You need to work out who you are serving. Are you the leisure market, the commuting market or the business market?
You have an opportunity to do better. I hope you do.
AKA – weary traveller