No way SIA/VA!


A new press release from Virgin Australia says the company has "signed a landmark agreement which will enable them to establish a long-term alliance". Be afraid, be very very afraid?

For those who didn’t understand the heading, it was a play on the No Way BA/AA campaign, headed up by Richard Branson of all people! And while I’m in italics here, the photo above is of a Singapore Airlines 777-300 series plane taken by Juergen Lehle and uploaded to Wikipedia.

It was suspiciously pro-lawnmower ~ Marge Simpson

The points from the aforementioned press release:

Co-ordinate schedules between Singapore and Australia and beyond to provide seamless connections

I guess that could be useful, though a last resort option if I couldn't book SIA all the way. Hey, I just made a rhyme. Wouldn't it be great it made and rhyme… rhymed? But I digress.

Offer reciprocal frequent flyer programme benefits and lounge access;

My sister and I basically grew up in airport lounges. Well okay a bit of a stretch, but we lived all over the place and had to go between them constantly. We've been in them all, and SIA lounges are by and away the best. Well okay a bit of a stretch, but the point stands. I feel as though I've said that somewhere before.

The idea of cashing in on tons of SIA Solitaire points for domestic Virgin Australia flights would be appealing though, again provided I couldn't book SIA all the way.

Engage in joint sales, marketing and distribution activities.

Most people I talked to (all three of them) thought Virgin Blue's marketing was creative and edgy, but I found it face-palmingly embarrassing and hollow. A company advertising themselves with smiling faces and claiming to make the air fair by cramming seats even closer, charging for bottles of water and electronic checkin machines that failed more often than they worked for me came across as just a wee bit disingenuous. To be fair, Jetstar's advertisements with super hip young women in bikinis jumping around a beach shouting "thank you Jetstar!" — presumably after surviving their brush with a tightly packed, pressurised, cylindrical sardine tube — are perhaps even more insulting to the intelligence of their customers.

I guess the adage applies, you get what you pay for. What was the point in this? Oh yeah, I hope SIA's marketing isn't sent down this path!

None of that sounds too scary…

That's because I saved the first point for last. Put your tray tables up and assume the brace position by locking your arms under your legs or on the seat in front of you.

Codeshare on each other’s international and domestic flights;

This. Is. Horrifying.

Jokes about first world problems aside, if I buy a ticket for an SIA flight and board the plane to find it's Virgin Australia codesharing for them… I'd finally understand why airports have those metal detectors and radiation spewing, carcinogenic full body scanners. I would have a blunt nail file with me, and my resulting rage would not be a pretty sight.

Australian regulations make it difficult (AFAIK) for SIA to fly domestically in Australia so the market for Virgin Australia is there and understandable, but if Virgin Australia started flying to Singapore and replacing SIA flights on some of those routes, the last tiny part of me that still enjoys flying would die forever.

Not to beat around the bush on this, but as a customer there are few companies I hold in as high regard as SIA. They offer the best product, bar none. In the decades my old man flew with them, they only lost his luggage once, and he got a signed letter of apology from the CEO and full compensation. Conversely, he's only travelled with Virgin Atlantic a dozen times, had luggage lost twice, and never got anywhere with the phones. You do the maths.

It would be akin to IKEA doing a deal with Kmart for furniture, or Starbucks with Nescafe. Not that I'm biased, nor am I suggesting (for legal reasons) that Kmart or Virgin Australia or Nescafe are bad, just not my cup of tea. I hope they leave SIA alone, but histories of tie-ups like this are littered with failures, and those who don't learn from history are destined to repeat it, like an onboard entertainment system with the same three movies each flight.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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