Qantas Catering Now Miles Ahead of Virgin Australia

Qantas Brings Back the Booze on Domestic Flights
Beer and wine is now complimentary on Qantas flights. Photo: Qantas.

Qantas has reintroduced hot meals in Economy class and is now providing complimentary beer and wine on all domestic routes, including a limited-edition Qantas Centenary lager.

Qantas says it is now serving hot meal options on all longer domestic flights, as well as key capital city flights between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Hot meals will be rolled out on shorter domestic flights from March.

Complimentary hot meals served during meal times on Qantas flights include pies, quiches, or dishes such as mushroom ragout and roasted chicken with tomato, garlic and lemon sauce.

Until recently, Qantas had just been serving complimentary cold snacks in Economy class on domestic flights under 3 and a half hours, or hot snacks on longer flights.

Snack served on QF1795
Afternoon snack served on a Rockhampton-Brisbane Qantas flight in January 2021. Photo: Matt Graham.

Qantas continues to serve hot meals, along with complimentary beer and wine, in Business Class. However, spirits have been temporarily unavailable in Qantas Business Class since the beginning of the pandemic.

Qantas business class breakfast on QF661
Qantas Business Class breakfast served on a Brisbane-Adelaide flight in August 2020. Photo: Matt Graham.

Qantas expands complimentary beer & wine service

Qantas reinstated bar service for Economy class in July 2020 on flights departing after 9am. But Qantas previously charged $6 for beer and wine on many routes, and on some capital city routes such as Sydney-Melbourne, alcohol was only complimentary after 4pm on weekdays.

Alcoholic beverages including beer and wine will now be complimentary every day on all Qantas domestic and regional routes. As well as a nice value-add for Qantas customers, this enhancement eliminates the need for Qantas cabin crew to handle cash on board.

Among the complimentary beers served on Qantas flights will be an exclusive limited-edition Qantas Centenary lager brewed by James Squire.

“People know exactly what to expect when they book with Qantas, whether its complimentary food and drinks, baggage, fast Wi-Fi or access to dozens of lounges around Australia,” Qantas Chief Customer Officer Stephanie Tully said.

That’s a subtle dig at Qantas’ rival Virgin Australia, which still has reduced catering and no wi-fi on its flights. Virgin has also so far only reopened five of its domestic airport lounges – with only two more to ever reopen. Of Qantas’ 35 domestic airport lounges, 29 are currently open (this will increase to 30 when the Melbourne lockdown ends shortly and the Melbourne Business Lounge reopens).

What are other airlines offering?

Virgin Australia continues to offer just a small complimentary snack in Economy class with a choice of water, orange juice or apple juice on all domestic flights. No food or drinks are being sold on board for the time being.

On some Virgin flights, the snack is just a small packet of crackers.

Crackers served in Virgin Australia Economy class in February 2021
Crackers served in Virgin Australia Economy class on an Adelaide-Canberra flight in February 2021. Photo: Matt Graham.

Or, if you’re lucky, you might get a small muffin.

Banana & choc chip muffin served in Virgin Australia Economy class in February 2021
Banana & choc chip muffin served in Virgin Australia Economy class on an Adelaide-Alice Springs flight in February 2021. Photo: Matt Graham.

In Business Class, Virgin is currently just offering a snack box in lieu of a meal, but drinks including beer and wine (served in plastic cups) are available.

Virgin Australia Business Class breakfast on VA1235. Photo: Matt Graham.
Virgin Australia Business Class breakfast on a Brisbane-Rockhampton flight in January 2021. Photo: Matt Graham.

Virgin Australia is expected to reintroduce buy-on-board snacks and drinks in Economy class, as well as more substantial Business class meals, from next month – although the airline is yet to reveal any more details. Virgin is believed to now be in the final stages of negotiating a new catering contract.

Meals on Jetstar and Rex flights

By way of comparison, Jetstar is currently offering buy-on-board food and drinks from its onboard menu, as well as a limited selection of snacks and drinks for pre-purchase on its domestic flights.

Jetstar snacks on website
Snack bundles available for pre-purchase on a Sydney-Darwin flight in February 2021.

When Rex launches Sydney-Melbourne jet services next month, it’s promising complimentary snacks with water, tea & coffee for Economy class passengers – but not hot meals. In Business class, Rex customers can expect a light meal with drinks including alcoholic beverages available.

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Qantas introduces complimentary alcohol for economy passengers on all flights


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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]