Here is Virgin’s new ‘buy on board’ menu for economy class

From today Virgin Australia economy class passengers will have to pay for anything other than water, tea or coffee.

By David Flynn, March 25 2021
Here is Virgin’s new ‘buy on board’ menu for economy class

Virgin Australia is betting that economy passengers will happily trade free snacks and drinks for lower airfares, as the airline moves to a fully 'buy on board' menu with the promise of cheaper tickets to come.

On all flights from today, Thursday March 25, Virgin will ask economy class flyers to pay for everything apart from water, tea and coffee.

(However, the airline says that passengers who bought their economy ticket before March 25 will be eligible for a complimentary snack "on request".)

Virgin Australia's new inflight economy menu launches with a limited range of snacks and drinks, but the airline promises more items will be introduced "later in the year when travel demand is expected to resume to near pre-COVID levels."

Until then, passengers on longer flights – especially transcontinental legs between the east and west coasts – would be advised to do some preflight food and drink shopping at the airport and bring their own bounty on board.

Virgin CEO Jayne Hrdlicka promises that ditching the free snacks will mean lower airfares.
Virgin CEO Jayne Hrdlicka promises that ditching the free snacks will mean lower airfares.

The shift to 'buy on board' is arguably the most visible change to hit passengers since Virgin Australia stepped away from what many saw as a 'Qantas Lite' model and, under the new ownership of US private equity firm Bain Capital, reset its trajectory as a mid-market 'value' carrier positioned between Qantas and Jetstar.

Cheaper airfares on the way

As a result of axing complimentary catering, Virgin says it will be in a position to unleash even cheaper economy airfares by June.

"By removing snacks that aren't valued by our guests we're able to structurally reduce airfares, making it even cheaper to fly," suggests Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka.

Virgin claims its own research revealed that travellers would prefer to choose and buy their own food and drinks on domestic flights, instead of receiving a modest take-it-or-leave-it snack.

"Today's customers are more conscious about what they consume than ever before," Hrdlicka reasons.

"We like to choose what we eat and what we drink throughout the day – we are simply extending that choice onboard as well."

Chips, cheese and instant noodles

Virgin Australia's new economy menu, which is managed by airline catering specialist Gate Gourmet, starts out as a very sparse affair.

The most substantial offering are gluten-free 'gourmet' instant noodles – your choice of beef or vegetable – at $7.50. There's some irony here, given that Virgin's decision to serve cup noodles as business class meals in late 2020 led to the uproar of #NoodleGate.

Virgin Australia's $7.50 instant noodles.
Virgin Australia's $7.50 instant noodles.

Economy travellers can also dive into chips, cheese and crackers for $5, or grab a pack of 'premium savoury nibbles' for $7.50, while Kit Kats and chocolate muffins sell for $5 each.

Soft drinks, juice and hot chocolate will cost you $3.50. Beer starts at $9 and spirits at $8.50, with Australian wines – red, white and sparkling – at $12.

Click here to view and download the complete menu as a PDF.

Passengers can purchase their snacks and drinks with Visa and Mastercard credit cards and debit cards, along with American Express – however, Virgin notes that payments using smartphones and smartwatches won't be accepted.

PREVIOUS [March 24, 2021] Virgin Australia will no longer serve free meals, snacks or even soft drinks in economy class as of this coming Thursday, March 25, as the airline switches to a fully ‘buy on board’ menu.

Ironically, the move comes on the same day as Virgin debuts its new fully-inclusive plated business class menu.

Virgin says that in a recent survey of its economy flyers, some 65% said they didn't require a complimentary meal.

While coffee, tea and water will remain free for all economy class passengers, anything more will be available for purchase.

"Our new economy buy onboard menu features the tried and tested menu items that we know guests love, including cheese and crackers and Australian wine, delivering greater choice and flexibility," a spokesperson for the airline said.

Virgin has today begun emailing passengers booked on economy fares for travel on Thursday and beyond to advise them of the change.

"Please be advised that as of 25 March 2021 we have updated our food and drink offering on all flights," the airline says.

"Guests will continue to receive complimentary water, with tea and coffee also provided. However, complimentary food will no longer be provided in our economy class cabin."

"We understand you have purchased a fare inclusive of a complimentary snack," the email continues.

"If you would still like to receive a snack, please make yourself known to cabin crew once you are on board and they will be able to assist."

Competitors Qantas and Rex are certain to respond by talking up their own inclusion of meals, snacks and drinks in economy class.

In February, mindful of the opportunity to underscore its reputation as a full-service airline, Qantas upgraded its food and beverage service on domestic economy flights, rolling out hot meals to replace hot and cold snacks while extending the availability of complimentary beer and wine.

Put some vroom into your Virgin Australia Velocity Points account – here's how you can pocket as many as 120,000 bonus Velocity Points from a single credit card application.

David

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.

TMP
TMP

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

17 May 2018

Total posts 5

Looking forward to seeing what's offered and being able to decide if I want to buy - much more appealing than the previous food snack offered.

18 Jan 2017

Total posts 52

I'm surprised that are taking away the current offering.  Thought it would have been low cost and something is better than nothing.

no there are huge $$$ to be made on food/drinks on flights.

Do the maths

160 pax x huge number of flights x huge margins esp on alcohol with a captive audience (you can't byo alcohol)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 347

Damn, I’m really going to miss that 20g muesli bar at dinner time.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 May 2015

Total posts 2

Qantas dont offer much more...

01 Jul 2011

Total posts 12

Lets be honest their transcon food in economy was dreadful compared to the Qantas box meals anyway so BOB with an actual quality offering could be a better proposition.....seriously hope they keep the ink gin though!

So what they are actually saying is their target market is Jetstar customers, low budget end consumers. If I was in the ACCC I'd be really wondering if the new ownership is in the best interest of consumers.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Aug 2013

Total posts 231

Well..no. what they are offering is different to Jetstar - more comfortable seating, inclusive baggage although I hope they provide a bare minimum fare, let alone differences in service. People know the difference in dirt cheap no frills Jetstar and Virgin, Qantas and now Rex. But clearly you don't!

I can see Qantas doing an Uber Eats style ad, Tonight you will be having a hot meal with a sparkling drink or would you prefer a cup of water?

I should also put a disclaimer in the comment above that I have the total respect for every single VIrgin staff member, they are the true spirit of the company.

Rxm
Rxm

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Jan 2017

Total posts 58

Time will tell. Knowing how Bain works they will push the limits of what they think they can get away with. The el cheapo snack has gone do you really think they are not going to cut costs elsewhere. It’s just the easiest thing to cut 1st up. Bags will be next. 

the snacks on qantas are pretty basic in economy. Don't know why they even bother, unless the suppliers want to launch a new product & give to to qantas free.

25 May 2020

Total posts 3

Um, the ACCC is there to ensure anti-competitive behaviour doesn't occur, not to dictate airlines' service levels and operating model...

When 2 CEOs talk on the telephone and if they were caught wink wink nudge nudging for the betterment of both companies that would be a ACCC concern. Pricing fixing isn’t the only way 2 companies can work together to increase the bottom. 

nope will be nothing like Jetstar, but qantas must be worried, because they'll probably steel some of Jetstars market share

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Aug 2013

Total posts 231

VAs economy food was absolutely disgusting. It's as if they had went for the bare minimum just to tick the all inclusive option. Even on international. Have enjoyed their business class meals and never had a complaint international or domestic.

As stated numerous times, I will prefer to buy on board knowing I have choice and hopefully quality...will soon find out. And as long as they cheaper then Qantas - then they are sticking to their value orientated approach and choice offerings for a wider pool of flyers.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 468

Absolutely, spot on Dan22.  I do think this policy should be limited to what I'll call 'commuter flights' of less than 90 minutes, but small 'quality' meals (not snacks) retained on longer flights (e.g. BNE-MEL, ADL-SYD, anything going to PER, etc.).  

Not that we'd ever know, but I'd rather VA knocked $10 off the Eco airfare and left it to me to BOB if the quality on offer is good enough and appropriately priced. Just because food trolley is at 40,000 feet doesn't mean it's not competing with a concession outlet (Oporto, Grill'd, Hungry Jacks, etc.) 50 minutes away on arrival at the airport.  

If after 6 months there's minimal food sales, then either quality is crap or the price is exorbitant.  But this all just proves what I've always thought was the case: Jayne is still learning how to operate an airline.  

about the same in economy as qantas - a muslie bar or some american type cookie

the money is all in the booze.

Was talking to an international airline about what they pay for beer. About 50 cents a can (duty free ?) on average + getting it onboard.

At Suncorp Stadium, when their eftpos machines working (not 2nd 1/2 on Sat) they charge $10.75 for a cup of beer. NOTE: eftpos machines crashed at 1/2 time on Sat night & so these closed all bars & probably lost $100k plus in revenue.

Similar prices at night clubs or restaurants.

So don't think anyone these days would hesitate at $9 or $10 a beer on a flight.

So if 1/4 of pax on all pm flights buy a beer or other alcohol then that's huge revenue.

28 Dec 2016

Total posts 70

I wonder if they adopted the BoB mode earlier if they could still have maintained the relationship with Air Nz and potentially *A

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 295

VA were 'BoB' for the entire duration of the NZ partnership on all Trans-Tasman and Domestic Routes.  Basic fares only included a seat + 7kg carryon.

The 'all-inclusive' option on NZ routes only came after NZ broke off the relationship after the well publicised Luxon vs Borghetti & the shareholders bustup.

14 Oct 2016

Total posts 98

I still feel they should offer a meal on the longer flights (Coast to Coast, and longer than 3 hours). Between boarding, the flight and arriving, there is at least a 5 hour period when it is difficult to find something to eat. 

I don't feel dropping the snack on shorter flight is too much of a negative as the size of the snack was always smaller then anything Qantas would offer, but I think they should have improved their included drink offering as Water +  Tea & Coffee is a bit plain.

On Jetblue they still offer Snacks and a larger set of Drinks, so i'm not sure why the Boss said they were going to be more Jetblue than Jetstar, even though the service is a bit more like the later.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 288

Yes, the Coast to Coast services would benefit from a meal, and that means a proper meal not a snack. But this will complicate things when VA wants to simplify and streamline everything. Maybe some tickets could include an e-voucher worth say $15-$20 for the buy on board menu? You could still opt for the cheapest ticket with no meal.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

01 Mar 2012

Total posts 178

I’m happy with that. If I want to eat I’m happy to buy on board something decent. That will be the thing that I’m looking for. Given I usually eat in the lounge or somewhere prior to getting to the airport, I usually don’t eat on board so don’t want something included in my fare. 

22 Apr 2013

Total posts 13

Will be interesting flying PER - SYD lunch flight on Friday, looking forward to seeing a BOB menu, provided there’s some alternatives to your normal Soft Drinks, Nice chip dip item & Vegan Meal, I’ll then certainly be keen to buy! Countdown to Thursday’s reveal! 

I’m hearing reports of carry on bags now being weighed as well even at the priority counter?

Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

16 Oct 2017

Total posts 126

Not fully relevant to this topic, except that buying a large picnic at the airport for a SYD-PER and putting it your carryon might be a problem if weighed at the gate...

BA Gold

01 Apr 2012

Total posts 168

It's funny to read these comments as an Aussie based in europe.  We've been dealing with 'full service' airlines adopting the BOB model for years now.  And not just on short hops but some longer euro routes hitting the four hour mark.  BA, Iberia, Aer Lingus, TAP,  SAS, Finnair all have a Buy on Board model of some sort in economy now in intra-europe flights.  Austrian, Swiss, and Lufthansa are also moving to the model.  And BA have recently announced they are moving back to free soft drinks and snacks which is a great move.  It really annoys me when I fly BA and even as a Gold Card Holder I have to cough up £3 for a cuppa!

Personally, when it comes to food i'd rather pay for a meal of my choice onboard or buy something in the airport instead of being given a 'meal' on a flight that consists of some kind of unhealthy snack item.

Drinks on the other hand, i'm all for free tea, coffee and water and it's good to see that Virgin will still offer this.  Some of the BOB airlines in europe also offer these items free, many don't.  

A lot of success or failure of BOB is down to how well the airline executes it.  BA's was a disaster.  They had faulty cumbersome tablets initially that were always crashing while processing a sale.  And as BA sub-contracted the BOB to a third party and the third party had to suffer the loss of any perishable food items, you'd find that there was never enough food loaded and the crew would often run out of food items after five or so rows and sometimes wouldn't even get half way down the plane PERIOD on shorter flights.  

Easyjet on the other hand has the BOB service smooth as clockwork.  Enough stock, plenty of choice and they speed through the cabin efficiently.

The day before last I flew Austrian Airlines from Vienna to LHR and enjoyed one of the most delicious (paid for) meals i've ever had in economy.  Chicken Schnitzel.

The big problems with BOB seem to happen on the longer flights.  Last year I flew IST-LHR (thankfully I was in J) which is around a 4 hour flight.  We boarded, closed the door and then the pilot announced a two hour slot delay.  So, 6hrs on the plane.  I heard the crew later chatting in the galley that they had run out of all food after three rows and many of the passengers were starving.

My personal preference would be to pre-order from a wide ranging BOB menu online before travelling to ensure I get a meal i'll be happy with.

A good example of BoB would be Lauder Air, Nikki Air in Europe which have gone, was Air Berlin another BoB? The old saying When in Rome do as the Romans do. Just to add I'm sure this was part of the PS business plan presented to Bain.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 288

"My personal preference would be to pre-order from a wide ranging BOB menu online before travelling to ensure I get a meal i'll be happy with" I think that's also a great idea, pre-order your meal, although Virgin under Bain could make this another ancillary revenue option, pay extra to reserve your meal in advance. Makes sense to me and to the Bain bean-counters too I expect.

Re: Austrian, they have a very good BoB menu don't they? Again, why do people cling to the idea of getting a 'free' second-rate snack or meal which they'll probably grumble about anyway instead of being able to have a lower airfare and then choose something really nice that they want from the BoB menu or buy something at the airport or eat at the lounge?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 468

I'd hope the Bain McBean-counter would foresee the tangible cost savings would be greater if BOB was scrapped on short-haul/commuter flights altogether, with meals only available if pre-purchased with the air fare.  That way, only 'paid meals' would get delivered by Catering and onboard labour (i.e. cabin staff) serving meals could be better 'shaped'.  

But to your point, yes, I might happily pay an extra $25 for a decent meal with a glass of wine.  

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 415

 $25 for a decent meal and glass of wine?

Hey big spender! Looking at an old Virgin Blue 2003 menu you can buy 2 hot meals (“roast lamb” or “beef burgundy” or “honey and soy chicken”) and an “Australian Red” (or “White”) with some change left.

Mind you I recalled looking at the actual offerings ordered by other pax and decided I was not that hungry.

Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

16 Oct 2017

Total posts 126

In my experience economy buy on board is seldom the same quality as what can be brought onboard from the airport.  Even a cold meal from the airport is usually better than a hot meal on board. Seatmates sometimes look enviously at the picnic I take on longer trips. Hot chips on board would be a winner though - lol.

I have to agree, on a lot of flights around the UK and Europe where there's no economy catering I will happily shop for my own choice of meal and a drink at the airport and bring that on board. And just because a free 'meal' in economy doesn't mean it will be much good, I'd rather pay to choose what I want, and there's always a better choice of freshly made 'grab and go' meals at airports these days. I know a few people here have mentioned Pret in the UK and Europe in the past and yes, you can get a really nice roll or some sandwiches, a salad and drink from Pret, maybe a bag of chips or a slice, some of the better outlets like Waitrose will even sell you a cheese platter.

Good riddance to cheap snacks and cheap excuses for being 'all-inclusive'. This was an obsession of former CEO John Borghetti, but it makes you look cheap and offers a poor passenger experience if you don't do it well. Either offer a decent snack or a meal for free, or don't bother. This is another good example of the new Virgin being different to Qantas.

I think that getting rid of the 'free' snacks and meals in economy in order to keep air fares low is a good strategic move and very much in keeping with Virgin's new 'value' positioning. Get what you need, pay for what you want. In this case you need that air fare and at a low price, and if you want food then you pay for that.

I'd much rather see a very good buy on board trolley, a really good selection of snacks and meals and drinks, than crappy snacks.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

09 Aug 2016

Total posts 25

Completely agree. I'm glad to see the back of the pathetic little snacks. Particularly as when you then asked the FA for something else from the BoB menu, it often seemed like it was a major inconvenience for them.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 288

I think this is a step in the right direction overall, but the caveat is that Virgin needs to make sure this trolley is well stocked so that on full flights the poor passengers in the last dozen rows don't find that everything's been sold out before the trolley reaches them. Maybe as an extra perk for being Velocity Platinum the crew might approach Platinums in economy first to ask them what they'd like from the BoB menu?

I would think most Platinums would be in Economy X, Virgin America (I think) included food in those rows as part of the ticket. One mate who won't be named had his wife and daughter order so much they couldn't eat it all.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Sep 2011

Total posts 9

No where have I seen that Virgin will be launching BoB on and from the 25th.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 288

Did you not read the article where Virgin has confirmed this in emails to passengers??

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Sep 2011

Total posts 9

The email says nothing about Buy On Board being the new product. All it says is they’ve update offering and you now won’t get anything other than water, tea or coffee.

Please be advised that as of 25 March 2021 we have updated our food and drink offering on all flights. 

 

As a result, guests will continue to receive complimentary water, with tea and coffee also provided. However, complimentary food will no longer be provided in our economy class cabin. 

 

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. 

 

We look forward to welcoming you on board soon.”

Virgin has previously told ET that the buy-on-board menu would launch the same day as the new business class menu, ie Thursday March 25. I guess we will see all the details tomorrow!

08 Feb 2018

Total posts 125

Card or cash?

Nothing more infuriating that QF only accepting cash and having to miss that drink on a Sunday afternoon flight.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 468

The onus should be on VA to have a fully functional EFTPOS system on board, or all drinks and food is complimentary.  That'll put the IT boffins under pressure for a change !!

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 926

In these Covidsafe times, I'd think they will be encouraging card as much as possible.

I'm surprised VA is so behind the times. Surely physical plastic cards are not much more germ-free than plastic money - the FA would have been handling other peoples' payments then touching my card/cash. I have all my cards on my phone and have not used a physical card for over two years. Contactless is the way to go for all transactions so no one touches anything.

05 Jan 2021

Total posts 7

I am in the position of having bought economy tickets a few months ago for flights after 25 march.

As I understood it , the fare included snacks and juice.

What am I supposed to say to the flight attendant to get what I paid for ?

Virgins email is confusing - what does the paragraph mean ?

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.

TMP
TMP

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

17 May 2018

Total posts 5

It seems self explanatory to me. Ask the flight attendant "Can I please have the snack that I purchased with my fare?". You'll then probably receive your 95c protein ball. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Aug 2016

Total posts 63

Further to your point, it's easy to know that any fare bought before 25th March are on a fare basis that gives includes an onboard snack. But beyond that point in time and for up to 354 days, there could be a mixture of fares on any flight...are the CSM's going to have on their manifest which have the old inclusive fares to check against? Are they hoping that there will be a drop off of people who have paid, but don't claim, their snack (thus profiting by pax laziness)? Suppose they believe these cost are worth it.  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Aug 2016

Total posts 63

I got it as well for flights on Monday (BNE/MEL/ADL), thank God I dipped into my swelling points balance for upgrades to try the new Business menu. Then realised I still have 4 upgrades in my account

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 468

It would be smarter for VA (I know, I know, let's not get distracted) if their ticketing system automatically issued a $5 refund to all fares bought on a 'snack-inclusive basis' now, so that all pax boarding were in the same position.  

Eventually, the penny will drop with Ms Jayne (although I see she now joined the 'Speakers Circuit' and is appearing at the AHICE convention in Adelaide in May).  Focus Jayne, focus.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 926

Such a change sounds good but would actually be quite complex to undertake.  Reservation systems are amazingly convoluted and a change like you suggest would cost a huge amount especially since the software is not the property of the airline.  It would probably be cheaper to continue to give free snacks to everyone for the next 4 months than make the IT change.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 415

@ Boeing-Tragic

I think they rather give you the snack (notice no mention of drink) which is not likely worth $5 on the ground, while they charge any price they want in the air as BOB, and hope some people ‘forget’, while others may have trouble ‘proving’ they are entitled to get their complimentary snack if they didn’t download or print out that all important email before boarding.

05 Jan 2021

Total posts 7

AND the juice!

Lmc
Lmc

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Nov 2018

Total posts 97

VirginStar or Jetvirgin..... congrats to Virgin for giving Rex a leg up! 

So virgin is competing with Jetstar now and not Rex’s mid market approach?

P1
P1

24 Apr 2017

Total posts 76

I remember when Virgin used to be far superior to every other airline in Australia.

I guess I won't be flying with them again...

17 Apr 2020

Total posts 12

I, for one, will not miss the birdseed bar or the half sandwich with a minimal lowCost filling. Choice is a good thing. I would happily buy a sandwich from Coles or Woollies rather than a lesser quality one from an airport outlet or onboard (Gate Gourmet; what a misnomer). To paraphrase my late Mum, "If you can't afford to serve a full sandwich, better to serve nothing at all". Methinks the price sensitive buyer, given a fare of equal cost, will go for the airline (Rex) with free catering. A brave step VA.

19 Jun 2020

Total posts 28

I regularly do the Syd/Adelaide trip (every two weeks) and have been flying QF recently as they had a lounges open in Adelaide and Virgin didn't. 
I can honestly say that the QF in flight offer (snacks) was marginally better than Virgin which was actually rubbish and a total waste of time and money. But I don't fly this route to be fed as long as I can get something substantial in the lounge prior if it is an early flight (eg breakfast or lunchtime) So as long as Virgin has water I will be fine. For domestic flights onboard dining is not a big deal for me.

In regards to the lounge experience, I have been getting the upstairs experience at Virgin for several years out of Sydney so was spoilt for quality and service but now it is not opened and may never be opened again, I used the standard Virgin lounge out of Sydney last week and thought it has really slipped - no hot food some basic breaky cereal and stale muffins and very tired as well as pretty uninspiring staff, the Qantas lounge is far superior, having said that, I used the new Virgin lounge in Adelaide for the first time and really enjoyed it, Arthur and the team do a great job, it is stylish and roomy and the order at your seat/table process is simple and quite timely.  Food and Beverage selection is far superior to the Sydney lounge and better than the QF Adelaide offering and more than enough to avoid the need to eat anything on the way home to Sydney.

@giveflight, I like that “the upstairs experience” 

03 May 2020

Total posts 6

I’m waiting for Australian airports to provide better takeaways, much like in USA so that it’s easier to buy food to eat on the plane.  Agree with comments about Virgin lounge ... Brisbane lounge was not worth a visit a few weeks ago, stale muffins wrapped in plastic and cardboard cups of cold coffee.  Long for the days when the food was yummy.

24 Mar 2021

Total posts 1

This gives me some level of comfort. I flew BNE:MEL recently and got to the airport too late to buy anything substantial (most places were closed at 17:30 or had huge queues). I was pretty peeved I couldn't get a wine or something decent to eat. The 20g bag of snacks was not appropriate for an 1800 flight. 

I have a flight to Darwin coming up that was changed from MLE:DRW to be via BNE. I was dreading being on the plane that long.

PS: How bad is it that we have to request our "snack".  So much shade from the cabin crew.

BA Gold

01 Apr 2012

Total posts 168

At the end of the day, knowledge is power.  I rather make a purchase when I know EXACTLY what i'm gonna get for my money.  I don't want to get on a three hour flight hungry because my ticket says a 'meal' will be served to find out it is a cereal bar or some sugary snack I wouldn't eat.

I have total respect for airlines that are very open and transparent about what your money gets you.  I hate it when airlines use terms like 'a gourmet meal is served' when it's some kind of 99p junk or when they hide the fact you have to cough up for nibbles.  I flew AA domestically from DFW to SAN a couple weeks ago and while walking around the departure gates I noticed that all the flights that weren't serving a meal had this information scrolling along the bottom of the departure display screen 'beverage service only' (in other words if you want something to eat, go buy it).

Virgin has made it pretty clear what they're about and exactly what you get in exchange for your cash.  If that suits you, the fare suits, you like the brand and the timings you and you're happy to sit back with a complimentary cuppa and something you've brought in the airport you won't be disappointed.  If having some sort of inflight 'offering' is important, then fly Qantas or Rex.

IMHO Virgin will not lose that many of its most important customers to Jetstar (or Rex.....yet).  BA found the same when they went BOB.  There was no mad rush to Easyjet as the loyal frequent flyers had status with BA so stuff like lounge access, Fast Track and seat allocation were still perks they didn't want to give up in exchange for saving 15 or 20 quid on a flight by EZY.

I don't think this will be 'the end' for Virgin.  It's one change to the service proposition - which can easily be switched back.  I imagine the bean counters will be monitoring very closely how it pans out.  The will lose some customers for sure, but I imagine they'll see how this is offset by the savings made on complimentary snacks and drinks and the revenue from sales.  If the scale tips too much in the opposite direction they can easily revert back to what was.  BA has gone full circle - freebies to BOB back to (limited) freebies.  Swiss has gone from freebies to BOB to freebies to BOB in the past five years.  

So many airlines have moved to buy-on-board with actually very good menus, eg BA, Swiss, Austrian, so this proves it can be done, the question is, can Virgin Australia do it just as well? Until I see otherwise, if I am flying with Virgin in economy I'll pick up something at the airport, there are so many great food outlets at airports these days although I wish we had something like Pret or Eat. I would much rather choose what I want to eat.

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1263

Even if Virgin continued to offer a "snack" on board, there was nothing stopping those who wished to buy something at the airport to take onboard... and if $7.50 noodles is anything to go by, the value proposition is not looking good.

Overall, I'm doubtful the removal of food will contribute more to a reduction in price, when compared with the impact of let's say REX. The cost saving (and increase in ancillary revenue) may help VA reduce its cost base, enable sharp lead in fares, but ultimately airline seat pricing will always be supply v demand. Hence why in the past, I observed numerous occasions where last minute Tiger fares were more expensive than QF/VA.

Good luck to VA. I've never cared much for food on short-haul (though do appreciate a beverage), but I would value a meal (and widebody) flying to Perth. But they are a private business, being upfront and people can make a choice.

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 364

Reading the new menu has left me still hungry. Suggesting better options will be introduced later just feels like the can is being kicked down the road still. There's going to be some very hungry people still on long sectors

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 361

yuk.I will happily and I am in Adelaide by the way settle for going to say the food courts at Marion FOR a decent Double Cut Roll with meat/cheese and some salad put in my fridge overnight to take when flying the next day over any of the crappy VA food to use an example.if coming home from say Sydney or Brisbane more than happy to settle for Subway Roll or Maccas Burger with drink prior to getting on the plane or even Red Rooster.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

07 Dec 2014

Total posts 173

Come on guys! Noodle cups were a business class treat only a few months ago! How lucky are we to get them now in economy?!

In all honesty, the lack of the muesli bar or what not is not a big deal. This buy-on-board menu could be better, but its not horrible either. Does Rex even offer a buy on board menu? or just a free snack (which is what exactly?).

If Virgin are smart they would hand out small bags of snacks (like Delta's Biscoff cookies) - not advertised, just as a 'surprise and delight' - no trolley needed, just a small basket with a single type of item that is passed out.

BA Gold

01 Apr 2012

Total posts 168

It is interesting that they literally have NO hot food available for purchase - not a hot dish, hot sandwich/wrap.  Nothing that needs to be heated.  This is bizzare considering the lengths of some of the sectors.  I'd imagine this is so VA can remove the ovens from the back galley and save on space and weight.

I actually think it is a really poor offering and if they are trying to create a revenue stream from BOB they're missing a trick.  Options are so limited.  Not just food but drinks too.  I mean it's great they'll offer free tea and coffee but what about offering some nice coffee and a selection of teas for people happy to pay?

Take a look at this in comparison - Austrian Airlines BOB menu which they've just launched as they switch to BOB this month.

https://www.austrian.com/content/dam/austrian/global/documents/fly/austrian-melangerie/OS_IFE_Melangerie_March-May_2021_210x297mm_REV21_OL.pdf

This is such a disappointment, especially compared to how well Virgin have done with the new business class menu. I'd have hoped the economy BoB menu would get similar attention but no, it's the bare minimum and at 'captive audience' pricing too. The most substantial offering are cup noodles, and at $7.50? That's insane and it's almost insulting. So many airlines overseas have rolled out really good BoB menus, Virgin have dropped the ball here.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 468

Will you all p-lease give Jayne a(nother) break, she's still learning about airline operations, albeit much closer to the coal face this time.  This mess will be all swept away and sorted by this time next year (I hope).

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 168

Nope. No, Virgin. Go back and start again please. Buy on board menus shouldn't just be filler snacks and booze. I know in this article you've said that a more substantial menu will come later in the year but there are still plenty of people flying right now, and school holidays coming up too. There's so much more that could have been done here, this really is a missed opportunity.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2011

Total posts 359

Lol, and some wonder why people throw shade at Virgin. This is laughable...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 347

What a pathetic offering. Really Virgin, is this the best you can do? Can't even get a sandwich. I wouldn't put those chemical-ridden two minute noodles anywhere near my mouth.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 926

I am constantly amazed about how obsessed people are about the perceived quality of food when flying particularly when in economy.  Seriously, even the best economy meal I have ever received on an domestic flight probably wouldn't pass muster at the local foodcourt  and would be sent back.  You fly to get places; if you after a great dining experience, buy a cheap ticket and use the money you've saved on a good restaurant meal when you arrive.

I have no problems with a BoB snack.  Typically on a one or two hour sector, all I want to buy would be a beer and a cheese and crackers and actually did exactly this for a year on weekly trips to Sydney flying DJ.  If I want something more substantial, I'll eat in the lounge or buy Maccas and eat it at the gate.

07 Nov 2020

Total posts 14

Yuk.  Nothing really substantial or appetizing there.  Those overpriced snacks would leave me feeling even hungrier.  I've flown a lot on BA within Europe.  At least their buy on board menu is more substantial and good quality (M&S).  I have experienced issues though on BA with some items not being available.  The worst experience I had though was on a London - Stockholm flight at dinner time when the flight attendants only got to me with about 20 minutes of the flight remaining.  They were so busy faffing about and pandering to some other passengers who seemed very special to them.  But that's another story.  It is a problem though with the BoB model, the crew need to be efficient.  It's not as easy as just dolling out the same meal to everybody.

22 Apr 2013

Total posts 13

Think this new offering is 50/50 with more work to do. The soft drink prices are good at $3.50 (Jetstar $4) however assume they’re only the 200ml cans. 

Mr Lee’s noodles are quite nice, they’re no longer available @ supermarkets so probably tempted to buy on board. 

Very surprised there is no Hot food options considering this is popular on Jetstar flights I’ve flown. 

Would of been nice to have a Cider in the mix. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 636

So .. we've waited a total of five (5) months for $12 wine, $9 beers, $8.50 spirits, $7 noodles, as well as chocolate and chips ? Nothing inspirational, substantial or even 'value-oriented'. 

Pretty sure that my "incompetence" comment in another thread, regarding management skill is definitely on display with the choice 'revealed' for Economy today. None of this qualifies as a 'meal' - and barely qualifies as 'snack' material. Jayne, did you let a 6 year old work this out ?

  • The $12 wine (presumably a 187 ml mini) equates to a $48 retail (750 ml) bottle. Over-priced (by 50%) 
  • $9 beers? Tell 'em they're dreaming! 
  • $8.50 spirits? Does that include a 'mix' or not? (I'm betting "no", that'll be a $3.50 add-on).
  • $7 cup noodles? Must be selling off the left-over J Class "noodlegate' goodies. Seriously, your local Woolies does these retail for $1.00-$1.50

At this rate, it appears that Virgin's Economy BoB package is designed to eliminate Y Class catering entirely. If so, Virgin should achieve this aim fairly quickly. BoB revenue? Not at these prices - it will be non-existent.

Not envying anyone stuck on a longer haul or trans-con on Virgin, who misses out on visiting an airport food purveyor or a lounge visit before their flight.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 926

I think you're wrong.  Pricing here is not particularly different from Jetstar and they make a fortune from BoB.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 636

"Jetstar makes a fortune from BoB" ...  perhaps, that might be because Jetstar offers a hot meal and a varied selection of snacks ?

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 926

The snacks are basically the same between Jetstar and Virgin except for the hot snacks on Jetstar which is either is just a pie & sausage roll or a reheated and truly dire cheese toastie.  For domestic travel, inflight meals are not a major decision driver anyway.

Seat pricing is the key for all airlines going forward.  That is what will drive leisure travel as well as tempting business back away from Zoom meetings.  At the moment, JQ has the headline cheapest flights though the differential shrinks once you add in baggage, seat selection etc. I was sort of surprised VA didn't go back to charging for luggage but  I can understand that all the stress and angst at check-in from people being asked to pay $25 for a suitcase may make it just easier to build it into the price and take your chances.

Like the domestic economy generally, it appears the domestic travel market is roaring back and you'd expect all 3 airlines should be making some serious coin over the next few months, further assisted by a number of federally subsidised routes.  Of course, this is providing there are no more state border closes.  The only airline that appears to be at risk is Rex and it seems it maybe soon joining the likes of Compass, Impulse and Ozjet as an airline that tried to take on the duopoly and failed.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 468

Relax citizens, as an 'opening hand' (as it were), this will be just good enough for a month or two, but VA really needs to get some smarts into their catering department and improve this by the end of May.  Doing so won't require the usual Bain-style workshops, working group meetings, project control group meetings, round-table consultative sessions or importing an overseas 'specialist' used elsewhere by the Bain mothership  All that's needed is to seek the opinion of existing customers, add common sense, and assume - just for a moment - assume that you'll be summarily dismissed 'by day's end' (so to speak) if you stuff-it-up.  

Hint: if nobody comes up with a blueberry muffin or flourless orange cake - its been stuffed up and you should dust-off your Linkedin profile !!    Doesn't 'Karma' and 'accountability' really suck !!!

Jayne, you have 2 months to get the right, normal people of the job, not your Bain consultant friends as has curiously been suggested by a former employer.    Tick . . tock . . tick . . tock . . 

19 Jun 2020

Total posts 28

Bain is only interested in a return on their investment and if she delivers she will be fine but if not then she will quietly disappear.  I have heard Virgin is targeting 30% share, if this is what is required to make a profit then based on the early direction being set, that will be a difficult task. I am surprised how many of my business acquaintances have switch alliances already  

@giveflight @Boeing Tragic, I'll make a bet both my friends she won't last until the beginning of January 2022. Trust me have I ever been wrong?

think Joyce's job is on the line. Think Jane is much smarter than alan.

19 Jun 2020

Total posts 28

I don't like to take bets that are likely to lose me money so I wont take you up on this one

@giveflight, that’s right you just bet on sure things and make sure luck has nothing to do with it.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 288

It looks like Virgin kicked a goal at the 'pointy end' today but fumbled the ball for economy. I have no problems with buy on board, it makes sense on most domestic flights, and while it would be nice to have a meal option on say east-west flights there's no reason this could not be built into some economy fares, eg a voucher for the BoB cart.

But if you are going to offering buy on board then give people food that's worth buying, food that they might want to have, instead of these third-rate snacks.

I can't see that anybody on SYD-MEL or flights up to say 2 hours will really want to buy chips or instant noodles. But I can see that people on longer flights of 3-5 hours, especially depending on departure/arrival times and doubly so if you are changing timezones like east-west, would ot be satisfied with those same chips and noodles, if they want to eat they'll want something much more like a proper meal or even a light healthy meal, and that's what is missing from this menu. So Virgin seems to have hit a middle ground which doesn't actually work for most people?

27 Feb 2014

Total posts 2

"Today's customers are more conscious about what they consume than ever before," Hrdlicka reasons.

"We like to choose what we eat and what we drink throughout the day – we are simply extending that choice onboard as well."

....so long as your diet is predicated around process food.  This menu looks as bad as what you get on domestic U.S. flights, no fresh food in sight.  Very underwhelming in my view.

14 Oct 2016

Total posts 98

It appears as though they've gone with a line up of food items that doesn't require much refrigeration (except cheese) or heating. This is a poor line up of items, particularly for the longer flights mostly devoid of anything cooked or fresh (No fruit or veg). 

They should at least have plans for people being able to order a proper meal ahead of time, but they haven't even indicated they are working on it. I think Rex is in a good spot now to capitalise on Virgin's failings. 

25 Mar 2021

Total posts 1

I travelled to Perth with Virgin last Wednesday and was surprised to be offered a sweet biscuit with an option of water or juice. This was lunchtime flight from Melbourne.

As a long time Platinum status flyer with Virgin I asked the lounge for a sandwich to take on the return flight and was told I could not as they do not cater for that and that I could buy one in the terminal.

I think that Virgin has completely lost the plot and an attitude as experienced is enough for any traveller to question their loyalty.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

06 Apr 2012

Total posts 111

Yikes - not even a sandwich or wrap on that new menu.   

17 Apr 2020

Total posts 12

The economy "menu" is all based around dry stores with a long best before date. It is totally lacking in imagination and I shudder to think how many meetings had to be held to produce a list so unimaginative. Jayne needs to do a few trans-continental flights in a middle seat in economy to gain some cognisance of what the paying public need. 

AT
AT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 349

Virgin have made no secrets about lowering cost and so keeping costs down this menu is working as designed, a few (largely non perishable) options to tied you over if you’re feeling peckish, but not a full meal service. It may not be perfect but it will get the job done, and no one is going to stop flying Virgin because you can’t buy a salad roll on board, get real. 

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1263

You're probably right, I can't imagine many people picking a flight on a meal. But moving to BOB is a revenue opportunity, but you kind of need to offer good options... Particularly on East - West flights where you have a captive audience.

The flipside, will QF extract more revenue from the perception of being a more full service offering? 

Let's say you've had a busy day, rush to the airport, just make your flight to Perth and realise you can only buy noodles on board... You arrive in Perth unhappy and you might pay that extra to fly QF next time. Will this apply to everyone? Nope, but it might impact some passengers perception of VA's value.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 288

I agree that nobody will choose NOT to fly Virgin because you can't buy a sandwich or a salad, I don't think anybody chooses to fly Airline A over Airline B in economy for the food. They choose to fly based on things like price, timetable, their connection to the frequent flyer program and its perks such as lounge access, preferred seating.

So how does food fit into the equation? It fits in when somebody flies Virgin on a longer route and especially at a time or circumstance when they really COULD use a meal even if they have to pay for it. But they discover Virgin doesn't even have that option, so they might think "Next time I'll fly Qantas." Okay, they might ALSO think "Well Virgin's a lot cheaper so I will make sure to eat in the lounge or at the airport next time!", but my point is that the availability of a meal can be part of the equation and I think Virgin is missing that.


24 Aug 2011

Total posts 926

Leisure travellers priorities are price, schedule and reputation (they want their family safe).  For regular business travellers, status and lounge access rights distort this but price and schedule remain critical.  In both cases, food is not a key determining factor; everyone knows airline food is dire anyway.   Food may be part of the equation but it is a very small part and probably doesn't factor at all on flights under 2 hours.

VA is keenly managing its costs and hot meals fail on this front because if they don't sell onboard, they are waste.  Look at how the VA menu is made up of non-perishables that can be kept in the cart and used on subsequent flights.  Over time I think they will add extras like wraps and rolls but I'd be surprised if they added in hot foods.

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 238

A bit underwhelming. 

So I was in Virgin's Sydney lounge yesterday afternoon and noticed they have sandwiches on offer, boxed up, along with little snack packs of cheese and biscuits. So if you have lounge access and you're setting out on a longer flight like east-west, I suggest you simply grab a few packs of sandwiches and snacks, and anything else that is wrapped rather than served 'open', then stow that in your carry-on bag, pick up a can of drink from one of the airport shops on the way to the departure gate, and you're all set!

16 Dec 2016

Total posts 48

Hey regularflyer your comment "think Joyce's job is on the line. Think Jane is much smarter than alan." Has to be one of the dumbest on here. Jayne got the boot from Qantas and then A2 Milk and all of her decisions were based on an expensive US consulting company which she used to work for. She is ruthless and cares about financial return, not people. She will do anything she can to get Virgin to a level of profit where Bain can chop it up and sell it off. If their plan is to offer cut-price fares then they have to strip cost from everywhere else so get ready for more surprises! I don't trust this new team and won't be sending my family to fly with them again.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2017

Total posts 26

I feel sorry for the people flying domestic economy long-haul, such as SYD - PER or similar flights.   Virgin's buy on board menu looks to be just snacks.   Nothing substantial.    Similar to what Westjet in Canada have on their flights from Toronto to ports in the Caribbean.   Their sandwiches were not fresh at all.    I would rather pay the extra and get full service with Qantas.     The real competition will no longer be between Qantas and Virgin, but more like Rex and Virgin.    The airline offering the better product will survive.

felipe

what do you get on qantas ? A cookie ? 

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 415

Many people seemed to be happy with the switch to BOB “at least I buy exactly what I want and get” but somehow expects the VA Y fares will drop noticeably to compensate for the loss.

I wonder if VA y fare prices does not drop to as low as JQ fares, what reasons are going to be mooted to explain away the difference (and accepting the compromise): better FA service with a smile, VA FF program benefits, better seats than JQ, better planes 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Jun 2020

Total posts 8

I love how we always complain about the food in Australia. Other airlines give you nothing much. .

It’s what virgin was before the free food. I like the free coffee tea water. Food wise those workers who aren’t paying for it will buy. Families with kids will buy some stuff (kid pressure). 

Owner of business may on occasion. Prices are cheaper than airport prices. 

Why doesn’t virgin team up with a decent take away pre order the meal they keep warm virgin make a % 

Just give me more flights. SYD-MEL flights are packed virgin need more flights but don’t have the planes. Qantas have a monopoly on early flights. 

Anyone notice Qantas and the rental car companies are price gauging 

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 415

Virgin Blue didn’t offer any free coffee or tea or spring water originally.

I think the economy class syndrome news spooked them as dehydration was listed as one of the causes of blood clots. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Apr 2011

Total posts 9

The problem with BoB is it is too slow to serve on these short flights. Anyone in the back may miss out due to time or wait to get served until the end of the flight. More options to sift through and then time for payment. Virgin Blue's previous BoB retail menu had much better options. Now very limited, unhealthy and not cheap.

07 Nov 2020

Total posts 14

Agree.  They are going to struggle to get to everyone even on the 2 hour flights like BNE - MEL.  I took a BA flight from LHR to Stockholm a year ago and they only got to me with 20 minutes remaining.  Can't see the VA crew being organised enough to get to everyone in time.

bcoz

Hardly.

Jetstar manage to do it on a BNE/SYD flight. Simply have 1 cart at front & 1 at back & they meet in middle at exit rows. Exit rows might not be served until 30-45 mins into flight.

Don't plan on going to toilet until a cart passes you. Those at front might have to use the front toilet.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 415

@ regular flyer

Depends on how likely JQ pax BOB?

And Jetstar doesn’t have J class to serve in domestic flights so they can afford to start at both ends, whereas VA FA at the pointy end had to plate the meals etc. 

in the old days when I was flying virgin blue to keep QF honest, the FA struggle to finish the BOB service and that’s before free coffee/tea/water was available

Admittedly the new menu does not include hot food so may be simpler to do than the 2003 menu

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 361

I went to check out the menu out of interest and it's even worse than say either a school canteen(before the food police took over from 2008 onwards in regards to the food)or for that matter the disability enterprise I work at.I would be happy at say $10 with a curry pasty and a couple of salads if it was a lunch or dinner flight I ended up on or even roast beef and veggies to use examples.nothing remotely healthy about this new food at all.my friend's sister whose a doctor wouldn't even if they flew virgin would not even buy those rubbish on the menu for the kids of their household or the hubby.in fact it would be buy something healthy in the airport or get it the day before from a nearby food court,refridgerate for the night and take in hand luggage for meal on plane next day.

17 Apr 2020

Total posts 12

It never ceases to amaze me that people need to use the toilet as soon as the fasten seatbelt is off. FFF on a one-hour flight this shouldn't be necessary; nor should the recline of seatbacks. BOB should be able to be offered to all pax using 2 trolleys on a 1-hour flight. In Ansett days (remember them?) flight attendants could serve and clear a tray service meal as well as provide tea and coffee to all classes. Admittedly the sardines weren't packed anywhere near as tight, but it can be done.

Cathay Pacific - The Marco Polo Club

20 Jun 2013

Total posts 37

Looking at the PDF, very much a case of nibbles, wont do much to provide any sustenance say from Perth to Sydney.  Will have to have a good feed prior to boarding!

23 Jul 2017

Total posts 77

What's all the fuss about food on a one and a half hour flight? I take a train from Brisbane to Nambour. It takes about that amount of time (on the proviso Queensland rail doesn't  muck up timetables and trains waiting on a siding for another to pass, as most of the distance is single line. Then the journey's a little longer). No one offers me a snack, a bottle of water or a cup of tea or coffee. Do I starve? No. Do I need a snack? No. If I did, I'd pack a little picnic - a filled bread roll, some fruit, my own bottle of water - from home. I ask again, why the fuss about food or the lack of it on a short plane ride? This feeding of passengers goes back to the time of prop planes and longer times in the air. A time when flying was expensive. All that's part of the past. Let's just fly in some degree of comfort, and a large degree of safety.

By the way, why does Virgin insist in calling passengers "guests"? It's not semantics. A guest goes free. A passenger pays. Virgin, let's not pretend we're all chums and we love you. We love your money, in the form of fares in whichever class you travel.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 628

I wonder if you would think that if you had been served a meal or snack for the last 10 years on the train and then suddenly they stopped serving.


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