In this edition of quirky news, the first Virgin Australia Airbus A330-200 flight, DJ663, is due to depart Sydney for Perth at 8 a.m. this morning with one very special passenger on board.
Virgin group founder Sir Richard Branson? No. Chief executive John Borghetti? No. Yours truly? Aww shucks, I am flying on it but I'm not the special passenger.
Said passenger is none other than a Qantas employee. Such an observational flight should come as no surprise; V Australia representatives flew Qantas across the Pacific to observe their service. What is amusing is Virgin's handling of the matter.
An authenticated Virgin Australia representative on a frequent flyer forum says they "found the requisite Qantas spy on the manifest". The Virgin rep says the undisclosed passenger even signed up for Virgin's frequent flyer programme, Velocity, but "no status match sorry".
Virgin continues to say the Qantas employee will "slum it in economy in one direction - wouldn't really expect Qantas management to mix it with the hoi poloi". The employee's class of service choice is odd as the A330 service is aimed at capturing the corporate market with Virgin Australia's new business class seat and service. Economy class will merely have a different seat and in-flight entertainment option, although the carrier's new fare option will see some passengers receive complimentary food.
Speaking of IFE, Qantas has provided back-up entertainment in case the pesky IFE system fails: find the troll.