Virgin Australia now offering free meals, drinks in economy

Virgin Australia now offering free meals, drinks in economy

Virgin Australia takes a step closer to matching Qantas’ 'full service’ standard today with the debut of free meals and drinks for economy class travellers on selected flights.

The deal includes even the cheapest, most heavily-discounted economy tickets – but the arrangement is restricted to flights of more than 2 hours 45 minutes.

Virgin Australia's flights to Denpasar and Phuket are the first routes on the ‘free food’ schedule, with the airline planning to “progressively roll out the service on all flights over 2h 45m by the second half of this year”, a Virgin Australia spokeswoman confirmed to Australian Business Traveller.

“All guests will be offered the choice from two hot meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner, which are complemented by some side dishes such as a dessert, salad or bread roll” Virgin Australia says, while the buy-on-board service on these flights will move to being “snack based”.

Virgin Australia already offers free meals and drinks to all passengers on transcontinental services between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Perth.

However, the bulk of Virgin’s domestic flights – which, like Qantas, take place on the ‘golden triangle’ corridor of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne – take less than 2 hours 45 minutes, so economy passengers will still need to buy meals and drinks on board.

Asked how this time was settled upon as the cut-off for free meals, the Virgin Australia spokesperson said “the 2h 45m mark has been identified as a key flight time when our guests would like a meal as part of their flight service.”

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David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.
 

38 comments

  • chrisjrn

    chrisjrn

    16 Apr, 2013 09:18 am

    Why 2h 45m and not 2h 30? It means they don't have to go to the expense of starting a catering base in Hobart. Their HBA-BNE flight is 2h 35m!

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  • Daniell

    Daniell

    16 Apr, 2013 09:26 am

    One word. Cheap!

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  • flex737

    flex737

    16 Apr, 2013 09:58 am

    Yep! Won't include SYD-TSV either. Flight time according to the website is EXACTLY 2hr 45mins. Needs to be over 2hr 45mins??? How convenient! 

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  • ej2479

    ej2479

    16 Apr, 2013 10:34 am

    Gee some people will never be happy!  If it was 2hr 30 people would whinge that it  didn't cover syd mky.  If people got the meal, they would whinge that they didn't like it.  I'm pretty sure trying to screw HBA passengers out of a "free" meal is not on their agenda.

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  • chrisjrn

    chrisjrn

    16 Apr, 2013 11:00 am

    The point I was going for is that it gives a reason for going for 2h 45m. It excludes a LOT of medium-length flights to places that don't have a catering base.

    Just trying to give a more concrete reason than their PR-speak dodge, quoted in the article.

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  • Waynec

    Waynec

    16 Apr, 2013 10:49 am

    This seems more like a marketing gimmick than a real enhancement by VA as it probably excludes around 70-80% of their flights.

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  • johnnysfo

    johnnysfo

    16 Apr, 2013 11:33 am

    One word or Five............Still better service than Qantas;-)

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  • johnaboxall

    johnaboxall

    16 Apr, 2013 11:55 am

    There's generally a good reason for why things are done a certain way. It isn't a conspiracy to scam people out of meals on longer flights. It could just be that they're introducing meals on the longer flights first to give the crew a chance to get up to speed with the service requirements - then over time the meals will start being introduced onto shorter and shorter flights. If you are incapable of organising yourself and must have a meal supplied on the plane then fly in J or QF. 

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  • VA773ER

    VA773ER

    16 Apr, 2013 04:23 pm

    tronixstuff, I agree with you 100% and I'm not being biased. Sometimes people need to look at the bigger picture before making ignorant remarks and accusations. I think Virgin has come a long way since the low-cost days of "Virgin Blue" and are heading in a good direction :)

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  • jonopl

    jonopl

    16 Apr, 2013 12:00 pm

    Does VA's complimentary food and drink apply for flights whose westbound flight is greater than the eastbound flight. An example is VA1384 BNE - ADL, the flight is scheduled at 2 hrs 55 mins, whereas the eastbound flight on VA1385 is 2 hrs and 25 min. I would prefer for consistency's sake that it applies for both.

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  • airtraveladdict

    airtraveladdict

    16 Apr, 2013 12:34 pm

    well its not like the meal on th 1 hour flight with QF is anything to write home about. for breakfast its cereal and from then on its like a dip with some tomato chutney thing until dinner, where you are served a random hot meal.

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  • Ben84

    Ben84

    16 Apr, 2013 12:42 pm

    Sounds reasonable. Can't imagine people getting upset. Surely it is possible to eat before a short flight and again after it! 

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  • roby

    roby

    16 Apr, 2013 01:25 pm

    Will those trans-Tasman and Pacific Island flights be included? It's interesting to see VA taking an extreme opposite direction from its part owner NZ who has been trying to align products and services with VA.

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  • Charles

    SteveCF

    16 Apr, 2013 01:53 pm

    Good move. I think flights under one hour don't really need a meal service, snacks are enough. 

    But I don't understand some of the reactions here, you get a saver fare for much less than a flexi, and for 10 - 15 dollars you get a meal.  I think that's better value than qantas surely?

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  • kel0210

    kel0210

    16 Apr, 2013 05:11 pm

    Loved the idea of having hotmeals on longer flights. For shorter flights, I would rather have the buy-on-board menu and pick what I want for a snack and a drink, instead of having a meal service and have the cabin crew to rush you through the meal. Good job, Virgin Australia. Keep the improvements coming!

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  • mitchimus

    mitchimus

    16 Apr, 2013 08:24 pm

    What an interesting coincidence that they made this announcement today...I wonder if it had anything to do with what the people at the red roo were doing this morning...just saying ;)

    Either way it's more good news from an airline that is nothing like the old Virgin...thank goodness.

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  • David Flynn

    David

    16 Apr, 2013 08:45 pm

    Mithimus: as it happens, Virgin didn't make any announcement on this today. We pulled  together the information for this story via Virgin and we had the story ready yesterday, but decided to hold it until this morning, to balance out the subsequent Qantas uniform story.

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  • mitchimus

    mitchimus

    17 Apr, 2013 03:43 pm

    ah...now it all becomes clear :)

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  • Daniell

    Daniell

    17 Apr, 2013 03:14 am

    Interesting to see all the Virgin staff comments defending this. LOL I wonder if any of you were the 'on duty' crew member on my last Bne-Mel flight who lay sprawled across the last three seats, watching movies and drinking coke, while  the toilets had no towels or soap, and I was told to 'stuff' my rubbish in the seat pocket :-) At least now they'll be kept busy serving food, even if only on longer sectors..............

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  • Charles

    SteveCF

    17 Apr, 2013 04:30 pm

    Thanks Daniell who must work for Qantas......... Because hey, Qantas service has never been sloppy? Platinum member with Virgin, fly them heaps and never had or seen what your talking about.  Not saying your experience didn't happen, but lets get real, if it did it would be on the rarer side. #dontworkforvirgin

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  • Daniell

    Daniell

    17 Apr, 2013 08:52 pm

    LOL At SCF. If I worked for Qantas, I'd say I'd be on staff travel, on Qantas, not a VA flight. Just a thought.

    If you're Platinum as you say, you'd be a bit more savvy and not beleive marketing bullshit that 'we've identified 2h45m as the cut off for when our guest would like a meal'. Spare me the PR spin. It's cheap. 

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  • Charles

    SteveCF

    17 Apr, 2013 10:07 pm

    Mate, take a long bath and relax! And mind your language.

    Obviously you can give it but can't take it.

    Every company does marketing spin mate, I'm in marketing so I'm more 'savvy' than you think.

    Oh, and it's believe not beleive... Just a thought

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  • Daniell

    Daniell

    18 Apr, 2013 04:14 am

    If you're checking spelling then, perhaps try using you're instead of your in your previous post, and let's instead of lets. Just a thought :-) 

    Marketing spin is marketing spin, whether it be VA, QF or your profession. It's insulting to say 'market research', and you know it. 

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  • johninoz

    johninoz

    19 Apr, 2013 03:00 pm

    Why do so many postings on this site, and others I read end up as slanging matches??

    Is it so hard just to stick to the point of the article, and make a reasoned comment?

    No, I guess not.

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  • gippsflyer

    gippsflyer

    19 Apr, 2013 08:48 pm

    Bit harsh. Usually posts like that above are the exception on ABT. Most contributors genuine, reasonable sorts - more interested in discussion than trolling (thankfully!)

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  • Charles

    SteveCF

    19 Apr, 2013 11:37 pm

    I agree and I shouldn't have engaged like that. However I took exception to people putting there honest opinions across and being accused of being employees.

    But then, I think everyone can see posts like that and see it for what it is without engaging like I did. 

    Apologies to all.

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  • gippsflyer

    gippsflyer

    20 Apr, 2013 10:15 am

    SCF, I don't think you have anything to apologise for. I know you as regular forum contributor, and I enjoy your posts. No blame to you for a modern ill.

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  • David Flynn

    David

    20 Apr, 2013 12:00 pm

    Hi John - I think you'll find that like Holden vs Ford, league vs Aussie rules, Ginger vs Maryanne and Apple vs Everybody Else, as soon as any element of "Qantas vs Virgin" comes up, it brings out some passionate supporters from both sides!

    However, sometims people can get a bit more passionate and wound-up, which sometimes sees debate descend to a slanging match.. But as Gippsflyer says, this tends to be very much the exception  - at least here compared to other sites IMHO - but I don't expect it will ever go away, again due to some passion on this topic.

    (and FWIW, while I don't hold any firm opinion on Holden/Ford, Apple or footy, I am in the Maryanne fan club)

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  • Daniell

    Daniell

    20 Apr, 2013 03:54 am

    SCF, look at the nicknames, VA for example. Hardly neutral. 

    I don't work for an airline, and fund my own business class travel. Seems people like to come down hard on QF with EVERY decision, but can't handle it when comments here are negative towards VA. As I said, spin doctoring is for uneducated fools, whether it be VA, QF or anyone else doing it. I've been quite happy to point out QF's failings in the past, as you do, but don't excuse my last experience on VA because you see it as a 'one off' or because QF can be sloppy. Just shows how biased you are, while accusing me of the same. 

    And your reference to a spelling faux pas, when once again you've spelt 'there' when it should be 'their', isn't too clever. 

    Oh, if QF ever decide to serve food only on sectors over 2hrs 45m due to 'market research', I'll tell them what a load of rubbish it is too.

    Cheers

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  • gippsflyer

    gippsflyer

    21 Apr, 2013 04:11 pm

    Hi Daniell, if you always pay business, what on earth where you doing at the back of the aircraft on the BNE-MEL flight you mentioned lol. Given there's always a crew member in the forward galley, and the exclusive Business only toliet forward, I can only figure you got lost :-)

    Either way, I haven't come across much blind unwavering loyalty to either brand on these forums - most people seem to like bits and pieces of both brands, for different reasons, so perhaps you're just reading more in than is really there. After all, I doubt anyone is going to switch carriers just because someone said something in these forums. My view is fly with whoever makes you happy - enough said really.

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  • Daniell

    Daniell

    22 Apr, 2013 04:06 am

    Gippsflyer, I fly business internationally, a mix of both J and Y domestically. I didn't say I ALWAY fly J domestically. Although, thank you, I am quite good at finding my way around an aircraft.

    For your information, I thought the whole level of service to be so bad on that particular VA flight, I waited behind to discreetly inform the Purser. She was totally ineffectual and disinterested, despite me being calm and moderate and just wishing to point out how much her crew had let her down. Then again, any Manager worth their wage would have actually come past the curtain to ascertain the performance of their crew. 

    Your response seems to indicate that only passengers in J are deserving of any kind of service ethic. I'm sorry that you feel it's acceptable for Virgin crew to provide bad service :)

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  • Charles

    SteveCF

    24 Apr, 2013 04:23 pm

    Daniell, I feel you are wildly misrepresenting Gippsflyer. He was merely making the point that if in business class, one has no reason to be at the back of the aircraft, a point which made your story look a little thin at the time. I think it very unfair to accuse him of such snobbery or that he was saying such service to be acceptable. He plainly did not say that.  

    I think you are reading posts, and putting 2 and 2 together then coming up with 57. Perhaps start reading posts for what they are actually saying, not what you wish they are saying?

    I appreciate you clarifying that your experience was on that 'particular' flight.  The point being, that when companies employee thousands of people, you will always get some staff not up to standard. I've had bad experiences on both airlines, but it would be silly to conclude a one off bad experience is the norm for a particular brand. Hence why I don't feel the need to express negative stories with such a broad and unclarified stroke. 

    For me, I fly business on coast to coast and mostly domestic on other routes, the Virgin service has been excellent, and on the whole more consistent.  But thats me, and I don't care if others feel different because it doesn't bother my sleep as it is nothing more than an opinion. 

    So RELAX Ok.

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  • gippsflyer

    gippsflyer

    28 Apr, 2013 03:19 am

    Actually you said "I don't work for any airline, and fund my own business class travel" - no domestic nor international qualifier mentioned by you at the time. 

    Only snobbery seeming to be displayed here is yours - there's no post here of mine that states only J pax count - quite the opposite in fact.

    If you think Virgin are awful, then don't fly them - its not rocket science. 

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  • Daniell

    Daniell

    28 Apr, 2013 05:11 am

    Ditto, Gippsflyer. Considering all your negative QF posts, I wonder why you don't follow your own advice and avoid them. 

    Next time on VA I'll make sure I'm flying J, however, that way I may be lucky enough to find a crew member in the forward galley and, if I'm REALLY lucky, some soap and towels in the toilet :-)

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  • Charles

    SteveCF

    3 May, 2013 11:11 pm

    My goodness I was just flicking thru old posts and your still going! I see you didn't defend your misrepresentation? Be a man and admit you got that one wrong hey?

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  • daniel bedford

    ausdan44

    28 Apr, 2013 10:06 pm

    It is a step in the right direction for virgin. But to be a serious competitor to Qantas in all aspects, they need to move to be a full service airline on every flight and they also need to sort out the mess that is their IFE on domestic flights (excluding coast to coast).

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  • pika

    pika

    30 Apr, 2013 04:30 pm

    I wonder if Virgin Australia will offer special meals?

    If they offer any meals, they should offer the option of special meals.

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  • ElvyK

    ElvyK

    5 Sep, 2014 09:35 am

    Recently flew with Virgin Australia Melbourne-Nadi and return. It was great to have hot food offered there. The quality of food  was great - especially on the return flight - even our kids ate it all up and said it was very delicious. The meal sizes could be bigger though :) 

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