The competition between airlines is stiff. The competition between the top-tier airlines owned by billionaires is downright brutal, but also sometimes comical. Take the game of one-upmanship between Qatar Airways and Virgin Atlantic, for example.
For instance, if Virgin updates its fleet of passenger jets to the newest Airbus A350, Qatar Airways will outdo that by upgrading all of its aircraft to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Qatar Airways goes after the lucrative, but select, business and first-class market. Virgin Atlantic goes after families and middle-income earners. Virgin offers three choices of meals, so Qatar offers an entire restaurant menu.
This one-upmanship is going Qatar’s way so far, as they were voted the “Best Airline” in 2017, an important but somewhat dubious award that Virgin Atlantic has never achieved. According to The Independent, Qatar Airways, who owns one-half of British Airways, is the all-around best airline in the world, while Virgin Atlantic was the best UK airline (but 33rd in the world).
If Qatar Airways is the best airline in the world, it is also an airline that the average family can’t afford to fly on. This is where Virgin Atlantic shines, from special backpacks filled with fun games and crafts that each kid receives upon boarding, to special family-friendly programming preloaded on the onboard entertainment system, to a variety of in-flight meals which include choices for children. Qatar Airways, meanwhile, continues to upgrade its first-class and business-class offerings, hoping to cash in on that sweet, sweet luxury money.
With that in mind, here are 20 ways these two airlines continue to one-up each other:
20 20: Virgin Accepts Apple and Google Pay
Did you plan a Disney vacation and hustle your family all the way to the airport only to realize you forgot to order tickets? Well, if you have an iPhone or Android phone, you can pay right at the counter! Virgin started accepting Apple Pay in 2016 and in 2018 began to accept Android Pay (but only from those phones with Android 6.0 Marshmallow or later). Qatar still makes you go through the hassle of, you know, ordering your tickets with a credit card or cash. Let’s see who will be first to start accepting Bitcoin!
19 19: Qatar Offers Promo Codes
Don’t leave Qatar Airways in the dust just yet, because, in an airline-industry first, they started offering promo codes that you can punch into their website when ordering tickets, just like an online pizza coupon! These promo codes are so advanced that you can even take one to your travel agent and they can apply it right there, provided that they are ordering from the Qatar Airways website and not buying bulk discounted tickets in advance like most travel agents do. Even if you can’t get a promo code it’s probably not a big deal, because you’re flying Qatar and you’re stinking rich anyways.
18 18: Virgin Has Daily Non-Stop Flights To Vegas
In a bid to be the one and only airline that brings joy to British citizens, Virgin Atlantic began offering non-stop flights from Heathrow to Las Vegas (and back, naturally). These flights began in 2018 and have been wildly popular. Virgin was so impressed with the response that they started offering non-stop flights from Great Britain to Boston, Miami and Barbados, too! Virgin CEO and founder Richard Branson can surely gloat now, because there’s no way that Qatar Airways can match such a bold business move, right?
17 17: Qatar Now Offers Twice-A-Day Flights To Vegas
Whether Qatar Airways was caught off guard or not by the hype surrounding Virgin’s non-stop flights to Vegas remains to be seen, but Virgin was most likely not expecting Qatar Airways to announce twice-daily non-stop flights from England to Vegas, as well as from Doha to Vegas, and from Frankfurt to Vegas, and of course from Tokyo to Vegas for good measure! There are now so many Qatar flights to and from Vegas that you’re more likely to see a Qatar Airways plane in Vegas than a slot machine!
16 16: Virgin Introduces Friendly Welcoming Cabin Crew
As part of their “Let’s actually make passengers happy instead of dreading every moment” strategy, Virgin has broken new ground in the airline industry. All cabin crew is trained (or forced) to be warm and approachable during the entire flight. From the moment you first board the aircraft and you’re welcomed with a beautiful smile and a heartfelt “hello” to the moment you leave and you’re treated like a loved family member who happens to live in another country, Virgin aircrew will treat you right. Now that’s something that no owner of British Airways could ever pull off!
15 15: Qatar Introduces Super-Professionals To Their Cabin Crew
Qatar Airways, being the preferred airline of elite flyers and businesspeople the world over, couldn’t hope to match Virgin in the “give everyone a hug” department, nor would they even dare to. Instead, Qatar Airways has gone with Super-Professionals to keep their luxury passengers satisfied. These flight crew members are dressed and coiffed to the nines, are extremely responsive to every guest's needs, and behave in a calm, controlled and extremely efficient manner. It doesn’t hurt the airline’s bottom line that every member of the cabin crew is an extremely gorgeous woman, something that hiring laws in the UK would never let Virgin get away with!
14 14: Virgin Has “The Clubhouse”
Next up we have the Virgin Atlantic “Clubhouse” lounge, where all ticket holders, regardless of seat class, can sit and wait for their flight at the airport. Why mingle with those downtrodden folk stuck flying economy on British Airways or Delta? The Clubhouse offers a bar, restaurant, private washrooms, free wifi and a comfortable seating area with leather sofas, televisions and toys, and books for the kids. You can even visit a Clubhouse after your flight has landed, provided it’s not two a.m. and everything is closed. If you’re a Virgin first-class passenger, you’ll get to share the Clubhouse with economy passengers. How cool is that?
13 13: Qatar Has Customizable First Class Seating
We’ve all been there. You’re flying on the airplane, sipping on a $300 glass of Dom Perignon, legs stretched out comfortably in front of you while a flight attendant gently but firmly massages your shoulders and another manicures your fingernails when all of a sudden the person next to you asks you a question. You realize that you can’t turn your head to face them because then you won’t be able to admire the diamond-encrusted 4K smart TV in front of you! Thank goodness Qatar Airways has solved this problem by creating customizable first-class seating, where you can arrange your seats, tables, TVs and leg room any way you want, meaning now you can talk to your partner AND watch the dog show on TV at the same time!
12 12: Virgin Has Special Perks For Kids
There’s nothing more relaxing than having the back of your chair kicked by a kid for four hours, but Virgin has decided to end that by giving a backpack stuffed with cool gear to every child passenger. According to Travel Pulse, the bags are waterproof so as to hold wet bathing suits, and come with face masks they kids can color themselves, goggles and snorkels, a pair of fun socks, coloring crayons and a Lonely Planet travel journal, along with a Where’s Waldo book. So long for that in-flight back massage. Thanks a lot, Virgin.
11 11: Qatar Has Special Family Seating
At first, it seems completely innocent and logical: Qatar seats all families with children in one designated spot on the airplane (if you’re traveling economy, it’s where the benches and oars are). This way the children can play and sing and dance, just like children are wont to do on a long intercontinental flight, while the parents can be happy that the family is all together. But then it starts to dawn on you that this isn’t about the families at all. This is about keeping those bratty, screaming, bouncy kids away from the rest of the airplane so everyone else can enjoy their flight. Whether genius or nefarious depends on your view.
10 10: Virgin Offers 400 Movies And TV Shows
Virgin boasts that their in-flight entertainment is the best and most comprehensive of all European airlines. Four-hundred movies and television shows can be brought up on the tiny screen embedded in the back of every seat with a few touches and swipes. You can even set up the headphone jacks on multiple chairs to play the same audio, so the entire family can watch the same movie. While there’s no popcorn or nachos on Virgin’s menu (yet), there certainly is no way that any other airline could even come close to offering so much choice in entertainment!
9 9: Qatar Offers 4,000 Movies And TV Shows
One day after Virgin boasted that they now have 400 hundred movies and tv shows to choose from, Qatar quietly announced, in a blog post no less, that they now offered 4,000 movies and tv shows for their guests to choose from. Not only can guests basically watch an unlimited amount of television in every single language in the industrialized world, but they offered Bluetooth compatibility for their headphones, too. No more wires, and if you wanted to, every person on the airplane could watch the same movie in different languages! What’s that you were saying, Virgin?
8 8: Virgin Modernized Its Fleet
Richard Branson announced Virgin Atlantic was updating its entire fleet with new aircraft. As a proud European, Branson outfitted Virgin with a fleet of brand new, fresh-off-the-assembly-line Airbus jets, including several massive Airbus A350s for those non-stop long-haul flights. This isn’t just a smart marketing ploy, it’s also the safe thing to do. As passenger jets put on more and more miles, things start to go wrong, and mechanics are often forced to patch over problems. A fleet of young airplanes means better safety, updated technology and a nice-sounding way to one-up Qatar Airways.
7 7: Qatar Keeps Airplanes Under Five Years Old
Qatar Airways announced that it would no longer keep any airplane that was older than five years. This means that not only did Qatar update its entire fleet, but it is constantly keeping its fleet updated with the newest airplanes, the newest in comfort, and the newest in technology. To prove a point they were the first airline in the world to start flying the massive Boeing 747-8 and the super-luxury Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Their contract with Boeing means that each aircraft will be retired when they turn four years and six months old and replaced with a brand-spanking-new one!
6 6: Virgin Announces Complimentary Drinks
There was a time when a free glass of wine or whiskey or even just a beer during your flight was a no-brainer, but then corporate execs realized what a cash cow they were missing out on and airlines all around the world started charging for drinks. Since the early nineties, we’ve been paying outrageous prices for an undersized plastic cup half-filled with crappy wine. Well, Virgin Atlantic declared that all that changes, and started offering complimentary in-flight alcoholic beverages. The first one is free. Any more and you’ll be forced to pay outrageous prices for a plastic cup half-filled with crappy wine.
5 5: Qatar Announces A Full Menu
Qatar Airways execs must have been watching the Virgin Atlantic announcement about complimentary drinks when they decided to offer an entire restaurant menu on all their flights. If you fly Qatar Airways, you don’t just get a choice between the slimy chicken in a box or the slimy beef in a box. Now you can mull your choice between a chef’s salad or a tender boeuf au jus, or perhaps even a steamed lobster tail on a bed of pilaf. Don’t forget to chase it all down with a full glass of wine, served in an actual wine glass!
4 4: Virgin Makes Economy More Comfortable
Because Virgin Atlantic is after the middle class, especially those with families who want to go to Disney World or Vegas, they’ve decided to remove several rows of seating in economy on every airplane and increase the amount of leg room comfort space every passenger gets. This is great for families who are lugging around kids and toys and diapers and who knows what else. It’s also a great way to advertise that they are the most comfortable airline to fly non-stop to Vegas on if you earn enough money to take one vacation every two years.
3 3: Qatar Adds Double Beds
If customizable first-class seating wasn’t enough to lure your black American Express card to the Qatar Airways website, then what about the double bed that you can sleep on during your flight? Qatar Airways announced that those amazing moveable first-class and business-class seats also recline and join together into a comfortable double bed. The attentive and professional cabin crew will supply you with cotton sheets and hypoallergenic pillows, so you can arrive at your destination rested and satisfied. It’s no wonder that rich people voted Qatar Airways the best in the world!
2 2: Virgin Rewards Points Can Be Earned On Qatar Airways Flights
In the ultimate snub to their competition, Virgin Atlantic announced, with some joy, that their rewards points, called “Flying Club”, can be earned on Qatar Airways flights. This means that if you purchase a flight with Qatar Airways, you can earn points on every dollar (or British pound) you spent, which is a lot of points considering the price of a flight on Qatar Airways. You can then spend those Flying Club points on things like seat upgrades, flights, and consumer goods. If you use a Virgin credit card and purchase your Qatar flight, you’ll earn three times the rewards! How on earth can Qatar Airways even start to compete with that?
1 1: Qatar Rewards Points Can Be Earned On ANY Flight
The Privilege Club is a rewards points program set up by seventeen different airlines, of which Qatar Airways is one member. This means if you fly on British Airways, Lufthansa, KLM, Emirates or a host of others, you’ll earn Privilege Points. This gives you things such as extra baggage allowance, access to VIP airport lounges, vacation discounts and more. If earning rewards points on seventeen different airlines wasn’t enough to lure you away from Virgin, Qatar will give you Privilege Points for flying on ANY airline, including Virgin Atlantic! Qatar for the win!