Australians are known as a laid back bunch. And who knows: maybe compared to America’s 4am rising CEOs we are. But when it comes to our domestic airlines, we’re picky. This is because we haven’t had as much of a race to the bottom as America, and we are used to having things pretty comfortable. For years we’ve had Qantas and Virgin Australia as our comfortable airlines, and TigerAir, Jetstar and Rex as our cheap airlines.
After COVID smashed the industry like a wrecking ball, however, the landscape changed. Virgin Australia went into voluntary administration, then was reborn with a middle-market focus. Meanwhile, Qantas has been making some cutbacks of its own, and some of the cheap alternatives like TigerAir have disappeared altogether.
The picture has changed.
Judging by some of the aggrieved comments on a recent video of a prototype of Virgin Australia’s new seats, however, not everyone’s expectations have changed in accordance with this new (cost cutting) landscape. Some people seem to be furious, in fact, that things are changing.
Enter: the following video. Posted this morning by Virgin Australia’s official TikTok account, the clip shows Virgin Australia’s new interior, as Virgin Australia put it, “coming in hot.”
@virginaustralia New seat prototype. That’s my type. 💅 #airline #fyp #avgeek #aviation ♬ Team work (60 seconds) – TimTaj
“New seat prototype. That’s my type.”
“Unboxing our shiny new seats,” the video begins. It then shows the seats being loaded onto the plane and buckled in and tightened up. The video ends with the caption: “ready for take-off.”
So far so fluffy. But this is where the blowback begins. Australian followers of Virgin Australia on TikTok quickly started complaining in the comments – which gave Virgin Australia’s social media team the perfect opportunity to throw a little shade.
TikTok user Todd Brownsey wrote: “Fixed pitch, no recline, less padding, less comfort, more expensive tickets costs! Great work.”
Virgin Australia hit back at this with: “So much recline and so much squish. 10/10 would sit.’
Another TikTok user wrote: “They have recline and are far more efficient. Also their mean ticket price has reduced thanks to an adaptive business model.”
Another follower asked: “Will there be a new J class.” Virgin Australia responded to this: “With leg rests and everything.”
TikTok user John James Edward Johnson II wrote: “Those look uncomfortable.” Virgin Australia responded simply to this accusation: “no.”
TikTok user Steven Luce wasn’t super impressed by the video either, writing: “Those seats look like HELL.” Another TikTok user, called Julian, asked if Virgin Australia could place the seats 10-15 centimetres further apart.
TikTok account Aviation Airline encouraged the airline to “keep the old ones.” This may be because Virgin Australia’s old business class offering was known among many to be the best domestic business class product in the world, and so naturally would be hard to beat.
Times move on though.
A TikTok user called Sam, further down in the comments, quipped: “Is this just because you don’t want Rex to have the same type of seats?”
Virgin Australia sassily responded to this: “Who?”
The Virgin Australia social media team also appeared to confirm there would be no first class, writing: “We get straight down. to business” when asked “No first class?”
Further sassy comments Virgin Australia had to fend off included: “So you copied United’s seats” and “no tv’s, how cheap.”
“Probably closer together and smaller.”
“These seats are atrocious.”
You get the picture. Basically, the video shows everything wrong with Australia’s aviation industry – people’s expectations are too high, and the product offerings are, thanks to the pandemic, ever more streamlined.