Qantas Brings Back the Booze on Domestic Flights

Qantas Brings Back the Booze on Domestic FlightsQantas has reinstated meals and drinks, including alcoholic beverages, on some domestic flights. The airline is also progressively rolling out in-flight wifi again, although in-flight entertainment remains switched off.

For the past three months, catering on Qantas flights has been severely reduced due to cost cutting COVID-19 health measures designed to minimise contact between passengers and cabin crew. Passengers on most Qantas flights since April have been served only packaged snacks and a bottle of water, including Business class passengers. No other food or drinks have been available – not even tea or coffee!

Refreshment served on my flight
Refreshment served on a Qantas flight from Coffs Harbour to Sydney in June

The good news for Qantas customers is that a bar service has been reintroduced on some domestic flights.

All Business class passengers will now be served meals and drinks including tea and coffee. On all flights departing after 9am, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages including beer, wine and spirits will also be available.

In Economy class, Qantas is now offering bar service on flights departing after 9am between the Australian east coast and Perth or Darwin. Pre-ordered special meals will also be available on these routes, such as Melbourne-Perth, Sydney-Perth and Brisbane-Darwin. However, the small snack and bottle of water will remain for now in Economy class on other domestic flights.

This is what the Qantas website currently says about catering on domestic flights:

Our crew will offer a complimentary bottle of water and a snack on these services. Additionally, pre-ordered special meals and a limited bar service will be offered on services between the East Coast and Perth and Darwin, with the bar service available on flights departing after 9am.

And for Business class:

In Business, we’ve re-introduced a selection of main meals, tea and coffee, and a bar service. Pre-ordered special meals are also available. The bar service is available on flights departing after 9am.

It appears that the changes to catering on trans-continental domestic flights were implemented in mid-June, although the Qantas contact centre did not seem to be aware of this at the time. On 11 June, an AFF member wrote about their rather dismal experience flying from Perth to Sydney in Business class with almost no catering. But on 20 June, a frequent flyer travelling in Economy class on the same route reported receiving a choice of lunch options and complimentary beer or wine.

Meanwhile, Qantas started reopening some of its domestic airport lounges yesterday. There have been some changes to lounge services, such as the removal of buffets and toastie machines. But pre-prepared snacks are being made available in the lounges, and beverages will be available on request from the bar at domestic Qantas Club and Business lounges – including coffee, freshly-squeezed juice and alcoholic drinks.

Drinks will be available from the bar at Qantas domestic lounges
Drinks will be available from the bar at Qantas domestic lounges

Virgin Australia is still serving only a complimentary packaged snack in both Economy and Business class, and only water to drink in Economy class. But Virgin has continued to offer a bar service to its Business class passengers over the past months.

Regional Express continues to offer beer, wine and soft drinks for sale on its flights alongside complimentary tea, coffee and water.

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It’s a bit galling for Qantas to label their snack and drink service as ‘complimentary’: it’s factored into the cost and price of fares.