Virgin Australia has removed complimentary snacks in Economy class, replacing them with a buy-on-board retail menu.
Virgin is also relaunching its Business Class menu today, with fresh new meal options replacing the infamous snack boxes served in the pointy end of Virgin’s flights over recent months.
Virgin’s new Economy Class menu
Virgin Australia will continue to offer complimentary water, tea or coffee to Economy class passengers. But additional snacks and drinks will now need to be purchased from the new buy-on-board menu.
The Economy class retail menu includes juice and soft drinks for $3.50, spirits from $8.50, beer starting from $9 and wine for $12. There’s also a modest selection of snacks available including muffins, Kit Kats, chips or cheese & crackers for $5. Two-minute noodles are back too, on sale in Economy class for $7.50 (and thankfully not as Business class meals)!
Here’s the full Virgin Australia Economy retail menu, launching from today (click on the image to view a larger version):
Unfortunately, there is a notable lack of substantial snack & meal options in Economy, unless you count instant noodles. Virgin says a greater range of menu items, which are supplied by the catering company Gate Gourmet, will be introduced later this year.
Virgin Australia says the change will allow it to remove the previously included snack out of its ticket prices, resulting in lower airfares.
“Today’s customers are more conscious about what they consume than ever before. We like to choose what we eat and what we drink throughout the day – we are simply extending that choice onboard as well,” Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka said.
“By removing snacks that aren’t valued by our guests we’re able to structurally reduce airfares making it even cheaper to fly. We’ll continue to offer complimentary tea, coffee and water on all flights and the opportunity for guests to purchase their favourite menu items at a reasonable price,” Hrdlicka said.
The free snacks served on Virgin flights over the past year have often been very minimal anyway. These snacks were generally things like a shortbread biscuit, chickpea crackers or a fun-size muffin. So the loss of these complimentary snacks from Virgin Australia’s Economy cabin is not really much of a loss.
Virgin Australia customers who had already made bookings for travel beyond today were contacted by email last Tuesday.
“We understand you have purchased a fare inclusive of a complimentary snack. If you would still like to receive a snack, please make yourself known to cabin crew once on board and they will be able to assist,” the email said.
Virgin previously offered food & drinks for sale on its flights, but suspended this service in April 2020. The airline originally launched complimentary food & drinks in Economy class on all domestic flights, alongside its existing buy-on-board retail menu, in April 2015.
You can discuss the changes to Virgin Australia’s Economy class catering on the following Australian Frequent Flyer forum thread: VA Economy Service changes – “Staff will be able to assist”
New Business Class meals
For Business Class passengers, Virgin’s new menu is a huge improvement over the previous lacklustre offerings since the pandemic began.
Virgin’s new menu includes a range of hot meals and salads, served on a single tray with crockery, glassware and metal cutlery. (This is in contrast to Rex, where all Business class food is individually packaged and served on single-use cardboard trays with bamboo cutlery and plastic cups.)
There will be two meal options on each flight, with breakfast, lunch or dinner served depending on the time of day. Produce will be sourced locally and menus will be rotated every two months, but there’s no longer a celebrity chef with Virgin ending its contract with Luke Mangan last year.
Items on the new Virgin Australia Business Class breakfast menu include smashed avocado & feta on sourdough bread, Bircher muesli and a ham & scrambled egg brioche.
The new Virgin Australia Business Class meals are served with accompaniments. On breakfast flights, these include things like seasonal fruit, yoghurt and pastries. At other times of the day, side dishes include cheese & crackers and chocolate cake.
Lunch options include a pumpkin and prosciutto salad, haloumi and quinoa salad, and a turkey, brie and fig jam sourdough melt.
On dinner flights, meal options include a lamb and rosemary pie.
Premium beverages including red, white and Grant Burge NV sparkling wine, beer and spirits are also available. This makes Virgin Australia the only Australian airline to currently serve spirits on its flights, as Qantas has not resumed offering spirits since COVID-19 began and Rex does not serve spirits either in its Business class.
You can discuss Virgin Australia’s business class meals on the following Australian Frequent Flyer forum thread: Virgin Australia Business Class Catering – Service, Meal times, Menus