Virgin Australia’s new business class menu takes off

Your Virgin business class ticket now includes plated meals, and not a snack box in sight.

By Chris Chamberlin, March 25 2021
Virgin Australia’s new business class menu takes off

Virgin Australia’s business class passengers can once again enjoy meals worthy of being served at the pointy end of the plane, with the airline swapping out its snack boxes for plated multi-course dining on all domestic departures from today, Thursday March 25.

And there’s not a celebrity chef to be seen: the focus is on simple, modern and contemporary dishes with a casual cafe flair.

All made with seasonal locally-sourced Australian produce, the crowd-pleasers include smashed avocado and crumbled feta on sourdough; pumpkin and prosciutto salad; or a warming turkey, brie and fig jam sourdough melt.

“Our new business class menu and service design is high quality, relaxed, uncomplicated and exactly what our guests and team members have told us they want,” says Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka, who also teased a mid-year price cut to make business class “more accessible than ever before (and) delivering better value for travellers.”

“We’ve really dialled-up the flavours in the food with the right seasoning and textures to provide a very competitive business class experience for domestic travel in Australia,” adds the airline’s General Manager Product and Customer, Sarah Adam.

Menus will rotate on a bi-monthly basis, with complimentary beer, wine, spirits and soft drinks all available round-the-clock, joined by staples such as tea, coffee and water.

Virgin Australia business class service times

Virgin Australia’s new business class dining will be available on every flight: service won’t alternate between being a ‘meal’ or a ‘snack’ depending on the time of day.

  • Breakfast is served business in class on flights departing between 3am and 9:59am
  • Lunch is served in business class on flights departing between 10am and 4pm
  • Dinner is served in business class on flights departing between 4:01pm and 2:59am

Delivered on a single tray, meals will generally provide a main course, a side dish, or dessert, and either a bakery item or a cheese plate.

Passengers who are not particularly peckish – especially when flying after eating dinner on the ground – could therefore take the chance to order just a small side, a dessert, or simply enjoy the beverage service: but the main course always remains an option.

However, it won't be possible to pre-order 'special meals' to cater for dietary requirements such as gluten-free, vegan, kosher and halal, the airline has confirmed.

That's less of a problem for vegetarians as meat-free dishes will be available to order as part of the standard menu, being the same procedure as the airline previously adopted when dining in domestic business class.

Virgin Australia business class breakfast

Business class passengers on a 'breakfast flight' (any time from 3am to 9:59am) can select a hot or cold main. That choice comes served with a pastry, and a yoghurt or fruit salad.

Right now, the hero hot dish is a brioche roll served with ham, scrambled egg and tomato relish, pictured here aside Greek-style yoghurt with mango coulis, and seasonal fresh fruit:

A fresh alternative is Bircher muesli with cherry compote, shown with a Danish pastry:

An alternative breakfast option is that very Aussie smashed avo and crumbled feta on sourdough:

“It’s well known that when you’re high above the clouds you lose some sense of taste and smell, so this was a really important factor in designing the new menu,” Adam says. "Our food not only looks great, but tastes great in the air.”

Virgin Australia business class lunch and dinner

Flying later in the day, Virgin Australia’s business class dining menu progresses to offer salads and sourdough melts.

On the salad side, one option is this haloumi and quinoa mix:

Alternatively, there’s a pumpkin and prosciutto salad with rocket, slivered almonds, cherry tomatoes and olives, finished with rosemary:

Also on the menu, a turkey, brie and fig jam sourdough melt:

For something heartier, those with fond memories of Virgin Australia’s Luke Mangan pies will welcome Virgin's 2021 take on the popular dish.

The incoming choice is a lamb and rosemary pie with pumpkin and feta smash, pictured here with an antipasto plate, a chocolate delight cake, and cheese and crackers:

“Supporting Australian farmers and producers was another important factor in designing the menu, so we’ll have seasonal Australian produce from local producers in dishes throughout the year,” elaborates Adam.

Virgin Australia business class drinks

To go with that lunch or dinner, Virgin's business class flyers will see a selection of Australian craft beers or a home-grown red or white wines, including Grant Burge NV sparkling.

Virgin is also stocking up on spirits including Gordons Gin, Johnnie Walker Scotch Red Label, Jim Beam Bourbon White Label, Smirnoff Vodka and Bundaberg Rum, with alcohol available on all flights.

First impressions of frequent flyers

We asked several Executive Traveller readers who regularly fly business class with Virgin Australia – and often with Qantas, too – for their thoughts on the new menu.

The verdict was unanimous: they all rated the business class dishes highly, although not without some room for improvement.

For example, many voiced their concern that some meals could prove too small for hungry travellers on longer flights such as Melbourne to Cairns or from coast to coast.

How often meals would be rotated between different routes came up: as one reader suggested, "I might even get tired of that lamb pie after five or six times!"

But there was no doubt the menu gave them confidence that the new Virgin Australia was headed in the right direction, especially if it keeps its competitive business class fares. 

Several also noted the menu was "very Virgin", and in line with the airline's decision to establish its own identity and carve out its own space in the market, instead of competing directly with Qantas and "trying to be a restaurant in the sky."

Iain Fogerty (company director, Brisbane): “The ham and scrambled egg brioche roll is exactly what I like for a quick breakfast on the east coast run. Likewise, the pumpkin and prosciutto salad is clearly for lighter dinners and I really like that idea. The addition of spirits in the drinks menu will make a lot of people happy: a gin over dinner will be well received."

Rodney George (finance professional, Sydney): “My first thoughts is that it looks fresh and simple, quite suitable for the triangle services and well-pitched for Virgin 2.0. There's a nice cafe/bistro feel, relaxed and informal, which is exactly where it needs to be headed. Virgin's onboard wines have always been decent and the addition of the Grant Burge is a nice touch."

Anne-Marie Norris (accountant, Brisbane): "The menu is step in the right direction, but I'd like to see some more variety, particularly at lunch. And I'd like to see a hot meal that isn’t in a pie, particularly for those guests wanting something substantial or who are watching their carbs. Where’s the chicken?"

Ron Knevel (education professional, Bendigo): “I like what I see. The dishes look healthy and offer sufficient variety, although some might find them too simple. The breakfast dishes and lunch offering is excellent and would definitely meet my needs. The dinner dishes are less appealing compared to Virgin's previous (Luke Mangan) offerings but it still makes me enthusiastic about their direction." 

Agi Magyar (portrait photographer, Adelaide): "The two vegetarian options for breakfast both looking delicious and light – personally I prefer lighter options for breakfast, especially when flying. The vegetarian dinner of the haloumi and quinoa salad with antipasto plate, cheese and crackers offer nice variety and they look delicious."

Sergey Vznuzdaev (transport professional, Sunshine Coast) welcomed the return of “proper food and plenty of choice... but two tiny crackers and a minuscule piece of cheese don’t make a cheese plate, and a meat pie doesn’t inspire the perception of a business class as something that offers premium food.”

Vznuzdaev also suggested that in place of heavier hot food, Virgin – and Qantas, for that matter – could consider lighter options such as fish and soup.

Michael Corrigan (human resources and industrial relations consultant, Gold Coast): “The breakfasts look appetising and provide a balance between healthy and tasty. The variety offered for lunch and dinner is appealing, and the addition of a plated desert and cheese and biscuits are a great finishing touch that would go well with a nice wine.”

Corrigan, who holds Velocity Platinum as well as Qantas Platinum One status, rated Virgin’s new business class menu as “above what Qantas offers at the moment, although Qantas meal flights normally offer a choice between hot dishes except at breakfast.”

Additional reporting by David Flynn


Also: Get ready to fly business class by pocketing up to 120,000 bonus Velocity Points from a single credit card application.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

30 Aug 2018

Total posts 10

Looking forward to trying out the menu myself coming Monday! Well done Virgin Australia! 

Well this looks pretty good! I'm glad Virgin is going for this 'casual cafe' approach. I agree with some of the comments in the article about some dishes being a bit carb-heavy, a chicken salad dish would be good to see, and also fish, maybe a hot-smoked salmon salad or a hot fish dish. But this is really off to a good start, Virgin. Keep those fares keen and it will be hard to justify paying so much extra for Qantas business class at least along the triangle.

BA Gold

01 Apr 2012

Total posts 165

The food looks good but i'm a little surprised that they don't differentiate between a one hour SYD-MEL flight and a nearly five our SYD-PER.  It's a good offering for a short east coast flight but I feel it falls short for a longer coast to coast flight and it would be nice if it wasn't an 'all at once' affair on the longer flights. Although I guess the quicker it is for the crew to deliver, the less crew they need onboard.  Errrm and the 'cheese plate' with one slice and a few biscuits I just wouldn't bother, seriously.

For me it would also depend on the availability of the various items on board each flight.  I hope they load realistic ratios or implement a pre order system online.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 598

what do you mean "the less crew they need on board" ?  the number of crew is set by safety regs, not meal service.

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 359

I hope there is going to be a bit of variety on different flights, and not just the meals displayed here. This will get old quickly if they are the only options on every single flight. 

28 Oct 2020

Total posts 2

Looking good. We were rather spoilt with the Luke Mangan Meals. And geez those snack boxes were ....... lol I actually prefered the $2 chicken noodles.  Looking forward to giving these a go. Very glad Virgin Australia is still flying - small steps, but looks like 2.0 is getting there. 

In the next 2 months I’ve got 10 Virgin flights and 8 Qantas flights booked mostly in business, normally I wouldn’t eat a meal onboard but I might try these out. Pre Covid I would put VA business service above Qantas, I remember this one Qantas flight with the hostess coming around pulling bacon out of a dish?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 435

Well, I guess if Seinfeld had the 'Soup Nazi', Qantas has the 'Bacon Nazi' - "No Bacon for YOU, Traveller240468 !! "

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Mar 2015

Total posts 225

At last we now know what to expect in J Class Travel with VA.

It certainly is a massive improvement from what was being offered but then almost anything would have been better!!!

I quite like the looks of most selections but as has been expressed it does need additional input for the Trans Continental Services. On the almost 5 hr flights I really believe that the lunch/ dinner offering is way to small and needs to be reconsidered.

The " cheese plate" is absurd , hardly anything there so additional input would be very wise.

The wine and other drinks being offered is really good , no complaints whatever there.

Overall with a bit of trimming here and there it certainly does the trick very nicely and I am really looking forward to giving it a go soon.

Having said that I will sorely miss the fabulous service and offerings that we had on the A330 Trans Continental service which was second to none.

This is a very good step in the right direction.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

01 Mar 2012

Total posts 178

I don’t like to eat a lot on board so these meal offerings look good. If the fares make sense I’ll continue to use their product.

Off to a good start here, Virgin. Nice, simple and uncomplicated meals, not trying to over-think things like some airlines and their 'chefs' do. I'd like to see some more hot meal options, I suppose these have been reduced to make it easier on crew and to streamline service. Some sort of fish would be a healthy option too.  The 'cheese platter' needs some love though, even the Rex Boeing 737 business class one reviewed here on ET looked better. Great to see spirits on board too!

Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

14 Apr 2013

Total posts 334

I will be looking forward to trying the new menu on my BNK - SYD flight this Saturday. It will be interesting to compare QF/VA/ZL as to which has the better catering in J

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 125

Okay, this is pretty much what I was hoping to see from Virgin. Certainly a big confident step in the right direction. Keen to try these on upcoming VA flights, and would definitely book Virgin over Qantas given the massive price difference for business class.

Transcon still something to be addressed, less appealing in Virgin's Boeing 737 of course compared to the Qantas A330s, but on an east-west flight will you get two meal services or just one? Could you have a choice of a larger main at take-off and a smaller lighter dish closer to landing, or vice versa?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

21 Feb 2017

Total posts 35

Hopefully they bi-monthly rotate that Johnnie Walker Red Label straight outa there and replace with something less headachy 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2014

Total posts 307

JW red should be rotated out of anywhere anytime.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Feb 2020

Total posts 23

Why in earth serve JW Red.. it’s not 1979.. seriously..

07 Nov 2020

Total posts 10

Looks pretty good actually.  Although personally I do question the value of paying for business class on domestic flights.  Maybe east coast to Perth, but don't see the value for the golden triangle.  You're barely in the air an hour, 2 for BNE - MEL.  

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 789

Priority, less people, more space, toilet. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Dec 2012

Total posts 53

Looks like once again Virgin Australia is failing in relation to Gluten-Free options in Business Class domestically.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Feb 2020

Total posts 23

More gluten... seriously..?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 631

1. Looks quite presentable, reasonable and photographs well.

2. Virgin already cutting corners? The top photograph shows the cheese accompanied by three (3) crackers, but every other pic shows it with just two (2). Attention to detail - zero. Consistency of message? Low.

3. As mentioned upthread multiple times - the 'cheese plate' is a disgrace for Business class expectations. One singular piece of cheese .. and some crackers (maybe 2, maybe 3, maybe none?)

4. Yay! The welcome return of spirits.

Final two comments:

Those announced 'catering' times are grossly excessive. Dinner from 4:01pm - 2:59am? Really? I would think that it would be more appropriate to have Dinner on departing flights of 4:01 till 9:00pm ... and then have some form of 'supper' service for 9:01pm thru 2:59am. For late night trans-con overnighters, this would allow for a supper on departure and breakfast prior to arrival. 

Now that the J Class catering is announced and out of the way, when will the rest of the Business Class package be announced? ie. IFE, WiFi, changes / additions / removals of Velocity agreements etc.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 211

"and then have some form of 'supper' service for 9:01pm thru 2:59am. For late night trans-con overnighters, this would allow for a supper on departure and breakfast prior to arrival. " Yes, strange there is not an overnight 'supper' service, maybe based on all the feedback here and no doubt from passengers this is something we'll see later.

"Now that the J Class catering is announced and out of the way, when will the rest of the Business Class package be announced? ie. IFE, WiFi, changes / additions / removals of Velocity agreements etc." Jeez, take it easy. People have been asking about business class catering for yonks, now it's finally here and covered in great detail, so I'm sure the other stuff will follow when Virgin is ready to announce it. Yes, they could have done a 'big bang' business relaunch but obviously chose not to. Some people are like broken records when they keep commenting the same things over and over.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 631

Sorry if you find my opinion on Virgin's sub-optimal "drip-feed" marketing ...  repetitive. Whilst the core of my commentary doesn't seem to attract any negative opinion to the contrary, then it seems passive agreement is the name of the game. 

The point is that I refuse to give Bain & Co. a [or multiple] passes for a "business plan" that is half-assed and incomplete. Marketing 101 anyone?

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 211

My point is that you keep harping on about it, I want this and I want that and I want it now. It doesn't "add value" to the article out comments, as ET often points out in general terms. And so yes, it gets tireseome and repetitive. We get that you're not happy about the delay but, you know, maybe accept this is the way it is right now and if you're not happy with Virgin's delays in this area then write to Virgin and complain to them. You've more than made it clear here.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 211

Hmmm. Okay, nice work by Virgin here, not trying to be Qantas, just putting together a clean, fresh and appealing set of options, adding in decent wines and spirits too. I've often felt that good 'cafe' food could be the key to a domestic business lounge experience and it's nice to see something of this appearing in the air. I think this is a good starter, obviously a few things need to be worked on such as the offering on longer flights, less cards and more hot meals, but this all up this is where Virgin needs to be. Keep those fares down, keep the meal quality and variety up, and it's a very good package.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 435

" . . . not trying to be Qantas", who ARE you kidding, with the handle "QFP1" no doubt tattooed somewhere (I would too if I had that status).  But seriously, I agree totally with your thinking re: good cafe food.  

What I think has been overlooked (IMHO) is that Virgin didn't merely 'raise the bar' on QF when they first introduced their Business fare (in the food sense) around 10 years ago, I readily remember they did a proper 'Knuckle Boom' job on Qantas.  I'm convinced this is one area (F&B in J-class) where they can regain the high ground easily, and retain it.  I'd expect a few tweaks to this service over the next 2-3 months (e.g. Chivas Regal as the house whisky).  And as for that shamelessly 'top-shelf' cabin service by the flight attendant(s), beyond exceptional - EVERY . . . SINGLE . . . TIME.

Done properly, I can see 'Business Food' being an optional extra (a bit of a 'tease' into J-class) when booking an airfare in EconomyX rows 3, 4 & 5 (only).  Couldn't work as BOB, but as a booking extra (like additional luggage), yep, I'd add it in - every single time.  

09 Aug 2015

Total posts 72

Pleasantly surprised, I was half expecting wraps and other basic stuff. This looks like something I would actually want to have and even pay for on the ground.

Maybe Virgin needs to turn The Club lounges into business class lounges and serve meals like this to passengers while they are on the ground.

25 Mar 2021

Total posts 1

After reading this article and browsing the comments I feel I am in agreement with the majority of the Community here

My two cents worth as below

1) First of all a major step in the right direction when flying Business, the food looks fresh and appealing and seems just right for dashing between the capitals on the Pacific coast, with that said NOTHING will come close to what VA used to dish up, especially on the East West Route

2) it’s a longer flight from Perth so I do heavily lean to Qantas and the comfort of the A330, so the 737 is a little bit of a ‘wet blanket’ on this route, the meals also need to be a course or so bigger as it’s longer flight, I personally wouldn’t feel all that satisfied with the current offering on that route 

3) The Cheese plate is abysmal , do it properly or don’t do it at all, surely some blue and Brie are in order to accompany that rather lonely and sad looking piece of cheddar

Apart from that, looking forward to road testing 3 East Coast flights between the capitals later this year ( COVID permitting of course), whilst I WOULD NEVER fly the 737 coast to coast (No matter how discounted) would be more than happy to experience this new vision between MEL/SYD/BNE

21 Apr 2019

Total posts 7

Looks good but a bit mean for 3 hour plus flights.

How about a soup. A smoothie. A high tea. Or add a generous salad starter to the above.

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 220

This looks fine for short flights but looks pretty poor for longer flights. Unless do the longer flights get extra snacks at least?

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Apr 2017

Total posts 4

I now realise how much I was taking my duck curry for granted. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Mar 2015

Total posts 225

I wonder how long it will be before we get an actual flight report from a forum member?

Soon I hope.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 435

Oh yes please.  To be graded by Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner and then split between (A) food, (B) wine and accoutrements thereto, and (C) cabin service.  Tasting Notes on the wine is optional.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

12 Jun 2019

Total posts 7

Good article and good comments. 

I hope the pre-flight bubbles is still offered. 

We are flying BNE return PPP in a couple of weeks. Really looking forward to being back in the air. We are leisure J travelers. Grounded for 15 months. 

Menu looks good but I agree about the cheese plate. On a longer flight I do enjoy a cheese plate and a Shiraz after the meal. 

On a tangent I really love the almond stuffed olives that were served on BNE to LAX. I have found a local supplier. 😀

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 435

As an 'Opening Innings', it looks good.  Obviously will be refined over coming months for longer haul domestic flights (i.e. anything to Perth, ADL-SYD/BNE, MEL-BNE/CNS, that sort of thing).  But for commutes between ADL-MEL, etc., I reckon it looks quite good, subject to proof in tasting, etc.  What will be WAY BEYOND exceptional will be the food service attention given by cabin staff.  Can name several top-end restaurants lacking in this space - but I won't (this time).  Keep it up Cabin Crew, you're slaughtering your competitors.

But as for that wine list, look Jayne, I know I've been 'robust' with you here (I don't discriminate based upon gender or football team), but I really do think you need my help (and that of a few others contributing here).  Just sayin'.  

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 381

At the risk of being accused of putting VA down as some VA supporters are voicing their dissatisfaction about QFF in another thread, I thought the selection looks like what some QF Business lounge had offered during the initial reopening phase in early July (or was it October?) last year with their limited plated-only snack-size/small meal offering.

Glad to know that many VA flyers are happy with what food was being offered to the in J class.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

21 Feb 2017

Total posts 35

A few notes from my two flights in business today from Perth and Karratha, sparkling wine was offered on boarding, both meal options differed from above (chicken pita for dinner and a ham and egg and potato wrap in the am) 

Scotch was red label, but was advised it was meant to be black for business they just didn't have it yet. 

The economy cabin was offered a complimentary snack as the retail menu options weren't available on Karratha-Perth evening flight

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Feb 2020

Total posts 23

It should be be Black.. thks

05 Jun 2017

Total posts 3

Flew Canberra to Brisbane this morning. The offering was corn flakes. Not sure when the new menu is supposed to start being rolled out but after getting emails about their new business menu we were very disappointed. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 435

WoW !!  Is it just me?  What a truly extraordinary coincidence that QF launches its Double Status Credits deal the very same week Virgin releases its loooooong anticipated details of its inflight business class meals.  Obviously VA will have a Double Status Credits run in the future, but for now, quality F&B in J-class matters much more to me.  Cheers.

All kudos to Virgin, they've got the Mignons @ Mascot at least a little nervous.  Box-on !!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Feb 2020

Total posts 23

I’m just pleased with the Double Status credits...

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Mar 2015

Total posts 225

Now that VA has shown that it's J class service is looking very good and great value the next 9 8 months are going to be interesting to watch.

Because QF has largely shut down it's International Service and good competition is now showing from VA & REX one wonders how much their Airline will lose over the next 8 months with mainly it's Domestic Operational as it's main source of revenue.

For quite a while QF has had it good but things are very different now so it will be very interesting to see how they hold up.

Until the International Operation starts up again I feel they will haemorrhage badly.

Time will tell.

23 Jul 2017

Total posts 75

Looking at the pictures of "business" class food, great shots. I'll have the snack box, please, but you can make a smoked salmon sandwich to go in it. Mushy avocado and feta cheese. Pumpkin salad. Bleagh! Each to his/her own, but I'll pass every time. I'll be happy with the little packet of bikkies and cheese, thanks.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 211

I think you're being a bit picky here, you would prefer a pack of cheese and biscuits to any of those meals in the photos, even when you are paying business class fares? Okay then, but no complaining about the lack of food for the cost of the ticket! I'm not a fan of avo and feta myself but pumpkin salad, sure thing, light and healthy, doesn't sit heavy on your stomach. I do agree with you that a smoked salmon sandwich would be good, but I think most people would suggest this is more something light for the lounge or for the economy buy-on-board menu, not a business class meal in itself.


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