After its bitter divorce from Air New Zealand and their joint Trans Tasman Alliance, Virgin Australia has announced significant changes to its Trans Tasman flights commencing on October 28th.

All fares will include a meal and bag, and their fleet of Boeing 737-800 aircraft will all feature onboard WiFi with 15 mins free access per customer.

The airline has announced a number of additional flights destinations in recent months since the split from Air New Zealand was announced. Flights will begin between Sydney and Wellington, Melbourne to Queenstown, and Newcastle to Auckland over the coming months.

The airline has also announced a codeshare agreement with Singapore Airlines on the Melbourne to Wellington sector of its Singapore to Wellington flight.

The decision to include a meal and bag with every ticket with a resulting fare increase to cover it does seems a strange one though - while some people struggle with the Seats to Suit approach taken by Air New Zealand who sell base fares without a meal or baggage, it gives people the option of paying for the product they actually want.

Typically around 60% of Air New Zealand customers don't opt for a fare including a meal on Trans Tasman flights, and depending on the route and day of the week, up to around 40% don't opt for an included bag. Those who aren't interested in either a meal or bag are paying for it regardless on Virgin, but it may help appease passengers who will now no longer have lounge access in Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown and Dunedin before their flights.

Qantas have in recent months denied speculation they were about to ditch included meals and bags on base airfares.

Air New Zealand is currently rolling out onboard WiFi across its fleet and currently offers WiFi onboard a handful of it's Boeing 777 aircraft that are used on Trans Tasman routes ex Auckland. It will also come factory fitted onboard its new Airbus A321neo aircraft that are arriving later this year which will fly Trans Tasman routes replacing existing A320 aircraft.

Despite a growing number of the Qantas Boeing 737-800 fleet having WiFi fitted, Qantas are unable to offer the service outside Australia due to the coverage footprint of the Ka band Viasat Sky Muster satellites used for the service not extending outside Australia. Qantas intends to roll out WiFi on international flights from 2021 onwards once Viasat launch its new global Ka band satellites.


Image courtesy of Virgin Austalia