Qantas, Virgin Australia fly alcohol-free in the coronavirus era

Domestic flights are coming back, but they'll be 'dry' for some time...

By David Flynn, June 17 2020
Qantas, Virgin Australia fly alcohol-free in the coronavirus era

Lounges closed, simple boxed snacks instead of meals, no inflight movies or WiFi – flying in the pandemic era has already lost some of its appeal, even if you're at the pointy end of the plane.

Now there's one more item to add to, or perhaps that should be cross off, the list: alcohol.

While Qantas and Virgin Australia are now adding more flights as travel restrictions ease and state borders begin to reopen, the inflight drinks proposition remains at a very simplified form.

This means bottled water for everybody but no tea, coffee soft drinks, wine, beer, or spirits, even in business class.

Airlines say the move is in line with health authority advice to minimise interaction between travellers and cabin crew, and stress that it's only a short-term measure.

"Due to Government restrictions and health advice associated with COVID-19, we’ve introduced changes to our inflight service offering including the temporary suspension of alcohol being served onboard," a Virgin Australia spokesperson told Executive Traveller.

"We are continuing to review these measures in line with the latest medical advice, easing of travel restrictions and guest feedback."

A Qantas spokesperson said that while the airline has maintained "a simplified inflight food and beverage service" over the past three months, "we expect customers will be able to enjoy a glass of wine or a beer when they fly with us again soon."

Executive Traveller understands that drinks could be back on Qantas flights sometime in July as Qantas airport lounges reopen.

Review: Here's what it's like to fly with Qantas in the coronavirus era


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1201

In some respects the airlines would be loving this opportunity. They have managed to reduce their product offering without reducing fares and have avoided criticism in the process. You suspect some of the previous perks may not come back too quickly. As the saying goes, "Never waste a crisis."

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Aug 2017

Total posts 119

Exactly spot on. To hand someone a bottle of water is no different to handing them a unopened can of coke !wine or beer.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1247

I hope the criticism comes in hot and heavy soon. This is nothing more than cost-cutting masquerading as hygiene and safety theatre.

Yes, Qantas are past masters at using emotional blackmail to justify reducing their operating costs ("penny pinching") wthout reducing the cost of the ticket. They have pioneered the concept of "the reluctant customer".

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Nov 2015

Total posts 10

Flying isn't looking terribly attractive at the moment.


Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

15 Nov 2017

Total posts 55


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2011

Total posts 363

Never been more disinterested in flying than I am now....I mean unless you absolutely have no choice then why would you? Reduction in product offering but no reduction in price you can bet. Add to that all the onerous conditions in order to avoid the virus well yeah no thanks.

Malaysia Airlines - Enrich

01 Jun 2015

Total posts 28

Good. Then please ready a very good mocktail or alcohol free champagne or zero alcoholic brand drinks. Please upgrade food quality too.

KW72 Banned
KW72 Banned

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 241

So how does wifi affect Coronavirus transmission. Unless it is 5G......then it makes sense why it is being shut off.


03 May 2013

Total posts 668

Penny pinching 101.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Jan 2018

Total posts 51

I had been a loyal customer since 2007 but I am seriously considering switching to Qatar or Cathay - at least they seem to have more choices of flights, even now.

Every single Qantas decision made during COVID has been most disappointing.

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