Virgin profiting at the expense of service?

The last fifteen years or so there have been many changes in the local airline market. With the collapse of Ansett, Qantas rose to a dominant position. In recent years, Virgin Australia has seen the opportunity to change its model and move into the full service space. A Frequent Flyer program introduced, along with lounges, and on complimentary catering (on selected routes). With change there is often pain, and our members seem to be feeling that pain at present.

As a regular VA (flexi & J) flyer and regular poster on this forum. I have noticed a recent decline in the service I have received ….. Particularly, the flexi meal offerings being a snack with only water, tea and coffee included.

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I agree that there has been a decline in economy meals (and to a lesser extent business meals), however as I am generally on Saver fares, I eat in the Lounge and enjoy a tea on board and a snack. I haven’t seen a decline in service elsewhere (check-in, The Lounge or staff)

According to our members, catering seems to be the main area where Virgin has dropped the ball. When Virgin started their transition to full service, they adopted the Air New Zealand model for fares. If you want cheap flights, a saver lite was the answer with no catering or baggage included. Next step up was the saver fares which included baggage, while the most expensive fares, known as flexi fares included a meal.

Now that Virgin has moved to an all inclusive model on some flights, it seems the offerings are changed yet again. Previously a flexi included an alcoholic beverage or soft drink, there are some reports this is gone. Even Business class has suffered apparently, with the famous “mocktail” gone and food quality on the decline. There are even reports a milkbar-like sausage roll was the business class meal on one flight. But it’s not just food in the air that’s causing problems, with lounge food also the subject of the discussion.

Soup? Bland pasta salad? Soggy toasted sandwich? Or the vegetarian fried rice? I cannot get too excited about those options. I end up (over)eating on the kettle potato chips but they are not in every lounge anyway.

After a few years of increasing benefits for travellers, it seems Virgin have hit some roadblocks. It cannot be easy to compete with the high standards previously set by the competition, who have been incumbent for so long. Although it must be said, Qantas are having some catering issues of their own, as they outsource both the lounge offerings and at some ports, the in-flight options to save money.

Have we seen the best the airline can offer and are now heading back to reality? What has been your in-flight experience, perhaps you found something to your liking in the lounge, join the conversation HERE.

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