I do wonder if a really solid middle of the market rebranding For VA could work. It’s been nearly a decade since they went ‘full service’ yet the actual flying experience still falls far short. Complimentary meals are often something naff and pointless. Admittedly it’s now A few years since I’ve flown them as I’ve done most my travelling abroad with the rare domestic sector on a low cost, mostly tiger who I’ve grown to really like.
In memory from my last VA flights the complimentary food and beverage was a 50g chocolate bar with a tiny plastic cup of water. Or a mini muffin with a little tub of yogurt.
They have made some product downgrades lately with some entry level fares on intl flights no longer including bags and seat selection (wrong downgrades in wrong areas imo) showing they are maybe having a rethink of the market position.
A complete fresh brand (expensive, confuses consumers, but frees the airline from paying royalties to an increasingly irrelevant brand) in the MOM position, with TT axed could look a bit like the following.
737-8 sized fleet forming the backbone of the network in the same 176 seat config they have now (no reconfig costs). Business class and economy X can be tuned with some cuts in unnecessary services.
A good use of customer facing technology will be vital for this new VA to make its biggest point of difference. Imagine an app with a booking portal that shows right up until boarding is called what seats are currently unassigned and just by selecting it in the app you can change your digital boarding pass to the new seat even if you originally booked basic economy you can upgrade to business whilst sitting at the gate waiting for boarding assuming you’re willing to pay the fee.
- Business class pax enjoy lounge access, bags, a business class meal, priority boarding.
- For economy X You enjoy priority boarding, extra leg room, a checked bag, and a certain value of credit for the Buy on Board.
- Economy will come in only one tier, with unbundling so pax can only pay for what they want. The basic selection will not include checked bags, or any flexibility. But you can pre select a seat for free. Food and beverage is buy on board. Addons such as check bags and flexibility will be offered as addons that can be purchased at any time through the booking portal.
All classes will have free access to streaming entertainment and WiFi access can be bought on board the flight.
About 20% of the fleet will be 737-10 sized. Business will be the same size as the smaller 73’s but it might add an extra row or two of X. Mostly it will just increase economy seating and can be used on golden triangle, high volume leisure destinations such as Ool and CNS plus some transcons.
You make some really interesting observations. I enjoy the service on Virgin by comparison to QF but on domestic/short haul international, it tends to always fall a bit short and always feels a bit half pregnant. Food is definately the biggest downside in Economy and 10 years on, still feels very LCC.
The digital experience across all platforms is poor and despite some tweaking in the past 12 months, is still lipstick on a pig IMO. I doubt there is any significant $ available to transform it so likely more of the same for the foreseeable future.
The brand name is irrelevant now and I would argue there is very little connection to it in the Australian marketplace, it could be called anything - it's a bit tawdry and whilst I understand a rebrand/rename would be expensive, it would be an interesting comparison to understand savings on royalties etc.
I still think VA across the Pacific is the best out there - I travel to NYC at least 4 times per year in J and the service and product on the 777 is excellent and of all the relationships/alliances, the one with DL is the easiest to navigate. All the other international alliances lack consistency and comprehension of what you are going to get or what you are entitled too as a VA FF. It's too hard to keep track of
We are spoilt in this country when it comes to airlines and I want VA to be successful but it does need to understand soon what is wants to be when it grows up and stick to it