I'm lucky enough to be traveling business from LAX to LHR next month in Business Class. If given a choice between Air New Zealand's business offering and Virgin Atlantic's, which one would you take?
I know that I'd be using the Air New Zealand lounge in LAX in either case but I do like the Clubhouse and chauferred car service with Virgin. Is that enough to outweigh any better seating or service with Air New Zealand? I'm neutral as far as points earning since I would collect United points with ANZ or Virgin points and don't have status or large balances with either. Thanks for your help.
Mar 7, 12, 4:11 am
I am familiar with both, so in summary you have:
LAX- Identical airport experiences essentially, including lounge.
LHR- VS clearly superior with dedicated check in and security channel, and the Clubhouse beats the Star Alliance lounge (and the BMI Great British Lounge) hands down, given the catering, places to sit, availability of haircuts, massages, personal grooming etc. NZ is simply Terminal 1, fasttrack security and the fairly average two lounge choices.
VS also offers an arrivals lounge at LHR but only until 1330 (so only for VS8 not VS24 which arrives after that). NZ offers no access to an arrivals lounge at LHR.
On Board - 1-2-1 configuration on NZ, 1-1-1 on VS A346 (NZ's 777s are brand new and the cabin is wider than an A340) NZ Business Premier is an updated, refurbished and altogether softer version of VS Upper Class Suite. If you happen to have a 747 on VS, then the nose cabin has to be rated above any 777 or A340, but I haven't seen 747s on this route for a while.
The NZ cabin is brand new, VS cabin a bit tired, but the new seats have a dedicated softer mattress surface on the sleeping side. VS still has quite a hard surface on here.
NZ IFE is brand new with larger touch screens compared to the VS remote controlled screens. NZ system faster and more responsive. Selection of entertainment between them both is fairly similar.
NZ catering including beverages is superior, given new galleys and new catering product intended to differentiate. Quality, presentation and taste definitely a good step above VS and I'd argue almost all business classes.
VS has the sit-at bar on board, but NZ has the ability to order drinks and snacks at your seat through the IFE touchscreen system.
VS gives you pjs for the overnight flight, but NZ provides a higher class of amenities with the rather exclusive La Prairie range. On balance NZ amenities superior unless you really want a take home pack of flight pjs.
Views on the quality of crew/service offered by NZ v. VS tend to be highly subjective. I've always found the UK based NZ crew to be excellent, professional, friendly and definitely about substance. VS I've found CAN reach that standard, but also gives the impression it's about appearance and style a bit more.
In summary, I think NZ is better on board, definitely for sleeping and eating, and since most of the time you are spending is on board, that beats VS winning at LHR.
VS only outclasses NZ on the LHR experience, where it does by a mile if spending time at a lounge matters to you. The Clubhouse is fun, but to give you some indication of how I rate VS, I'd rather eat in the Clubhouse than eat on a VS flight. Whereas, I'd rather eat on a NZ flight than eat in the Star Alliance lounge. Given I'd get one meal in at the Clubhouse, but the LHR-LAX flights involve four meals (or three full meals and a snack), NZ wins again.
Of course on the way back, there is no difference, unless the Revivals lounge (for the earlier LAX flight) is something you want when you get back to LHR.