Virgin Australia is readying an upgrade of its economy class 'buy on board' service which will add fresh meals to a menu which to date as been limited to packaged snacks and instant noodles.
Across a series of medium-range and long-range domestic flights, the airline has been trialling items such as wraps and sandwiches – including toasted sandwiches made in the galley of the Boeing 737 and delivered in hot ready-to-savour state to the passenger.
And as most people – and certainly most frequent flyers – will attest, there's something about a toasted sandwich which just hits the spot.
Morning, noon, night or even at 3am, a good toastie is comfort food not just for the stomach but for the soul.
And from next month, toasties could be served on Virgin Australia flights.
"We know how much those toastie machines in our lounges got a workout with people creating their own sandwiches," reflects Sarah Adam, Virgin Australia's General Manager for Product & Customer Experience.
Adam and her team are now finalising the new 'buy on board' menu, which is expected to be launched next month on all Virgin Australia flights.
"We're just looking to make sure that we design our buy-on-board menu for short-haul and international flights that will be appropriate to the time of day and the length of the flight," she tells Executive Traveller.
"Over the last few months we’ve been testing new fresh menu items on medium- and longer-length flights and we've been getting great feedback from not only guests but crew on how well received those items have been."
The trial includes sandwiches, wraps and those toasted sandwiches whipped up in the galley, with Adam saying she anticipated the toasties – if they make the cut – "will be (offered) across the network."
Toasties could well become the hot item – quite literally – on triangle flights between Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
Still to come: Virgin’s new premium lounges
Adams is also working up the food and beverage offering for Virgin Australia's new elite lounges which will replace The Club lounges at Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane when the airline relaunches its VIP flyer proposition in early 2022.
(The Club lounges at Canberra and Perth won't be coming back, with the airline saying it "couldn't make them viable.")
Having already rolled out a morish menu for its domestic lounges, with everything from avocado on toast to Japanese-style karaage chicken, Chinese dumplings, penne bolognese and mediterranean platters, it's expected these premium lounges will take that up to another level.
"We are are very well advanced with our approach to what the new offering will be," Adam says, adding "I think you'll be very excited where we land."
As previously reported, Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka says "we will retire 'The Club' brand name for a new and fresh brand that reflects our future direction."
This new brand will encompass not only these premium lounges but the airline's highest-level "loyalty offering".
Executive Traveller understands that Virgin's revised plans for this elite Velocity tier will see "new and more transparent eligibility criteria" replace the often opaque guidelines of The Club in order for membership to be signed off by the CEO.
This could even extend into the public realm, moving beyond invitation-only status to become an attainable tier for Virgin's super-frequent flyers who spend more time in airport lounges than their own lounge rooms.
With access to Virgin's premium lounges and other practical perks, this new VIP tier would help level the field against Qantas' Platinum One for those Velocity frequent flyers who regularly earn the equivalent of Platinum status many times over.