Monday, 22 September 2014

Virgin vs British Airways

Each year I go away I tend to fly to another country. I try to use budget airlines where possible but for long haul flights the companies I use to travel with use big budget airlines. Earlier this year I flew with Air Canada and found the service and comfort mediocre. However, I have flown with Virgin and British Airways a fair bit! These are the two big airlines that are based here in the UK. Whilst I was on the plane to Tobago I was trying to decide which I prefer and the decision was so hard.

N.B I had 9 hours to kill on a flight so there is always lots of thinking time! I would like to add that these opinions are solely my own and based on economy flights only.



Each time I flew with Virgin I always felt kind of sandwiched. The seats were quite cramped and narrow. All three of the flights I have flown on there were two seats by the window, four in the middle and two seats the other side. Even the aisles were really narrow too. The leg room was sparse but enough room to cross your legs and fit your bag underneath. I did feel quite cramped on the journeys especially if I was seated in the middle of the row of 4 seats. The headrests were quite slimline, probably due to the narrow seats. So I often felt my head slip off when dozing! We were offered a pillow, toothbrush/paste, eye mask, socks and a blanket which was really nice to have! Especially on the overnight flights. The seats did flip back but not very far but for economy that's to be expected. 

One thing that did really bother me was how dry my mouth/throat was. I do not know if it was their air conditioning but on all my Virgin flights my mouth felt so dry. So I would begin the cycle of mouth being dry, drink something, try to sleep, need to pee and get up virtually every hour. Great for preventing DVT but not when I just wanted to close my eyes!


I thought the entertainment was brilliant! The choice of films, shows, games and documentaries were so varied. I was never bored! I also loved that they had music and you could create your own playlist of songs. I never got round to watching all I wanted to watch because there was so much! I also really like the remote control it came with. It was dead easy to use and it was right in front of you. The screen was a really good size too and you could adjust the screen to a position that suited you - big bonus there!


I paid a fixed price as part of a package but I remember looking at the prices of the flights separately and they were very reasonable. I remember looking at my NYC flights with Virgin and the price for a return was around the £350-£400 mark. I think that's SO good! 

Customer service:

The staff were very attentive and very professional. They all had smiles on their faces, looked smart and nothing was too much trouble. On the overnight flights they came round with extra drinks for the people still awake which was a nice touch.

Inflight service:

I really liked that they came round with a menu to choose from. And it was really varied too! The food was hot, edible and a good portion size. I really remember the puddings being SO nice! The drinks were varied and they had a special in flight cocktail which was yummy. For economy I thought that was a nice touch and who doesn't love a cocktail?! On my Australia trip we were fed every 4 hours which was a good gap and they understood if we didn't want anything.


The cabin looked clean, no foul smells and I liked the Virgin colours of red. It made the cabin look smart and regal!

British Airways

The cabin did not look cramped and had a lot more of a spacious feel to it. On both the flights the seats were wider (or felt it!) and I didn't feel like a squashed sardine compared to Virgin. The aisles were wider and the set up was two seats by the window, three in the middle and two on the other side. The seats flipped back but not very far. We were given a pillow and a blanket but nothing else. So compared to Virgin we weren't given many comfort items. I really liked the head supports, you could move them out to lie your head on. So when I dozed my head felt quite comfortable. I felt there was more leg room too. I could cross my legs and still have room.

On another note my mouth was never dry. I think I had half the amount of drinks compared to Virgin!


I will not lie. I was a little disappointed with the selection. There were some movies I liked the look of but there were only three movies that I actually watched. The music choice was very limited and some of the TV programmes I had never heard of. I think considering British Airways are meant to the flagship UK airline, their entertainment choices were quite rubbish compared to Virgin. Furthermore, the screen was so much smaller! I thought considering the seats were wider/bigger the screens would be a bit bigger. I did like that the screens were touch screen but sometimes they froze or if you pressed a second too long it would skip a page, which annoyed me.


If I had to be honest I think the seats are way too pricey! I did a comparison on flights to Australia between the two and BA was so much more expensive! I still can't decide if they're worth the extra money.

Customer service

I thought the staff were really friendly! They dressed well and always had smiles on their faces. I felt like they tried to engage in more conversation with you. I can understand that some people don't want to chit-chat all the time. But it was nice to be asked if I had a nice holiday and what sweets I was sucking on. 

Inflight service

On the whole I thought the food was better and fresher. It was hot, a good portion size and just tasted a lot nicer. However, what did bug me was that we were only told the menu choices when the food trolley got to us. The cabin crew didn't even describe the food they just said 'chicken with potatoes' or 'tomato pasta'. I have a few food intolerances so a little bit more of a description (and time to choose!) would have been better so I could have made a more informed choice. The drink choices were varied too.


I think the cabin looked a lot smarter and the navy blue seating looked really nice. It just felt more roomy.

So overall?

Argh! This is so hard but I think British Airways have a better overall service. I think that is only because comfort on a flight is paramount to me! I found BA a lot more comfortable so for long haul flights I would choose them. In saying that I think Virgin has a lot more attention to detail. Although the comfort level was not all that I found everything else to be a lot better. If Virgin improved their comfort levels then they would be my choice hands down!!! 


1 comment:

Mary said...

I'm just really jealous that you got to go to Tobago! Your new blog design looks great, too!

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