Virgin's new business class menu launches March 25

"Finally!" sounds a chorus of business travellers and premium-cabin flyers.

By David Flynn, March 22 2021
Virgin's new business class menu launches March 25

Virgin Australia will plate up its new business class menu on Thursday March 25, with the airline confirming the meals will be served on flights that day as well as at an evening media launch held in the airline's hangar at Brisbane Airport.

Update: click here to read our exclusive report on Virgin's new business class menu (and see photos of the new dishes)

After months of serving snack boxes in its premium cabin – while longstanding competitor Qantas and new challenger Rex offer more filling fare – Virgin's 2021 take on business class dining represents another plank in the airline's rebound under new owners Bain Capital and CEO Jayne Hrdlicka.

Hrdlicka will host what Virgin describes as an "exclusive dinner event... heralding a new era of flying for Virgin Australia guests."

Guess who's coming to dinner? Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka.
Guess who's coming to dinner? Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka.

As previously reportedExecutive Traveller understands the new inflight dining service sees a return to the airline's pre-collapse and pre-COVID mode of individually plated dishes with a fresh, contemporary theme delivered on a single tray, with cabin crew recently undergoing training in the new meal service.

It's not yet known if Virgin will 'go it alone' with its f&b offering or has entered into a partnership with either a named chef or an established and recognised retail brand.

Virgin previously collaborated with Luke Mangan on domestic and international business class meals which were well-regarded by frequent flyers.

Former Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti hired Luke Mangan to design the airline's business class meals.
Former Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti hired Luke Mangan to design the airline's business class meals.

Mangan also lent his expertise to designing menus for the airline's elite invitation-only The Club lounges, which have been shuttered since March 2020 and could be a casualty of Virgin's move away from well-heeled corporate accounts and towards a more mid-market position.

However, while Virgin's business class passengers will see an upgrade in their inflight dining, economy flyers are set to see free snacks and most drinks axed in favour of a fully 'buy on board' model.

Read more: Virgin drops complimentary snacks, moves to ‘buy on board’ in economy

The new menu is part of the airline's rolling reset of business class after completing what it described as an "end-to-end review" of the premium proposition, aimed at being "more accessible" and with a focus on premium leisure flyers alongside "price-conscious corporates" and small-to-medium businesses.

A few elements of the experience remain in flux, such as inflight WiFi – which has remained switched off while Virgin re-evaluates the service – and the fate of invitation-only The Club and its well-appointed private airport lounges.

Inflight WiFi remains switched off and under review, Virgin says.
Inflight WiFi remains switched off and under review, Virgin says.

Read more: Virgin to retain VIP tier, but maybe not The Club lounges

Virgin Australia is currently flying at around 50% of its pre-COVID domestic capacity, although corporate travel remains pegged below expectations.

Earlier this week, Hrdlicka confirmed to The Sydney Morning Herald that the airline is in "advanced discussions" to lease eight or nine additional Boeing 737 jets in anticipation of a rapid recovery in Australia's domestic travel market.

"We are committing to more aircraft and we are just really positive about the outlook," Hrdlicka said.

Executive Traveller will attend Virgin's business class menu launch to bring readers a full report on the new meals and the thinking behind them.

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.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Mar 2019

Total posts 3

Great news on the business front. Any news on if the economy menu will be rolled out the same day? I am looking forward to being able to have a wine again (even if I am buying it!) 

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2469

Virgin has previously said the debut of the new business class menu will come alongside the introduction of fully buy-on-board in economy.

If Virgin want to be a contender they need to release there full plan for the airline not just the meal offering rather than keeping everyone wondering (I personally think it's Scurrah plan copied or hacked apart,,, oh how many times I've seen people do that before). Due to their slow roll out I'm taking a bet each way with QF and VA when before it was VA 100% which means their revenue from myself has been decreased and how many others are doing that as well or moved to QF. With leasing of new planes and the talk of another 8 - 9 737s coming I thought it would have been smarter to grab atleast 2 larger planes as well 787s or 350s?

Qantas

22 Oct 2012

Total posts 288

I just don't understand why it's taken them SO LONG to roll out a new menu.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 631

Does the word 'incompetence' ring a bell ?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Mar 2015

Total posts 225

It's probably taking so long because of the jockeying for senior positions within the new VA.

They were so confused about who was in charge that they were stabbing each other in the chest rather than in the back so none could make any decisions until now.

I reckon VA have lost quite a few J class to QF because of this very long delay and now that QF will use the A330 on some  Transcontinental flights it would seem like it might be a token gesture from VA but on Thursday we might actually know!!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2011

Total posts 356

I swear I have read 6 articles on this same subject...

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 211

Well Virgin has been dragging this out since last year, they had the kick-back on the instant noodles, the introduction of the snack box, then ET reported on the delayed launch of the new business class & menu, then the report this would happen in March and now finally here we are. A lot of interest among business travellers and frequent flyers in what Virgin Australia 2.0 is doing with everything from lounges to meals to WiFi.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Mar 2015

Total posts 225

russell   It just goes to show that there is a lot of interest in what they haven't done and might do.

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 220

Hope it is on flights not too long after the launch, and ideally immediately.

Better to do it once and do it right rather than rush it, but this has taken a very long time. Looking forward to the photos on Thursday.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2469

Virgin tells us the new menu will be in the air as of Thursday March 25.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Mar 2015

Total posts 225

That's good to hear David.

Now it just needs to see VA deliver!!!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Mar 2015

Total posts 225

I guess it's official now as their web site has a statement regarding new style catering starting tomorrow in Business and Economy.

I'd love to be on one of their BNE-PER flights in J Class tomorrow but alas, the computer bank balance "Says No".

Will have too wait until one of out ET staff do a report and/or one of the forum members posting one.


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