Virgin Australia began offering free food on all domestic flights last week. The news has been largely welcomed by our members, who have long complained of Virgin’s lack of consistency when it comes to in-flight service.

Until now, those on flights between the east coast and Perth already received a complimentary hot meal. However the offering on other routes varied considerably, with passengers on some routes receiving a free snack while others missed out completely. Following these changes, all passengers on all flights will receive at the very least a free snack.

The real winners here appear to be those travelling on the cheaper “Saver” fares, who are now guaranteed food on every flight. However a complimentary snack was previously a benefit for those travelling on the more expensive “Flexi” fares anyway. Some of our members wonders if this move devalues flexi fares.

So it seems although this is a positive move for most, its benefit is marginal at best. Flexis have been apparently downgraded from a year or so ago yet have increased in price. Saver lite has increased in price (by becoming extinct) but provides now a basic small snack and a checked bag (OK for some, not for others). Savers have probably been the winners, but the prize is a morsel of food.

Opinions of the actual food served in-flight vary. Some vocal members have not been impressed by what has actually been on offer on recent Virgin flights. They have been particularly underwhelmed with both the quantity and quality of what has been available. They question if it’s really worth the airline’s time and effort offering food on flights if the catering is not up to standard. It is also noted that nothing seems to have changed on selected routes where food was already complimentary.

Flew SYD-BNE-SYD today. Got a muffin the diameter of a 50c coin on the way up in the morning (saver), and the shrink-wrapped cheddar + cracker box on the way back in the evening (flexi)… in other words, exactly the same as what we were getting on capital city flights prior to today, regardless of fare class.

Some members are sceptical that while the food may be “free”, it is being paid for in the form of increased ticket prices.

While this is another step towards a more consistent product, interestingly this change only affects domestic flights. Customers on international flights to New Zealand will still have to pay for a feed on board.

Rival full-service airline Qantas has always offered free food on all flights, however this move should further differentiate Virgin from low-cost airlines Jetstar and Tigerair.

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]