Qantas revamps international economy inflight dining

By Chris C., November 12 2014
Qantas revamps international economy inflight dining

Economy passengers jetting abroad with Qantas will soon be tucking into larger meals and will have more choice, with up to four different mains available to pre-order via 'Select on Q Eat' on the Qantas website.

In the mix for all travellers will be a healthy choice, a ‘comfort food’ dish and a meal inspired by the destination of the flight, while those ordering their meals in advance will also have a fourth option.

The Red Roo will also ditch its meal trays in favour of new serving plates, enabling the crew to provide and clear meals up to 30 minutes faster – allowing passengers to maximise their sleep or productivity on board.

Economy flyers will also be offered a Bickford’s brand welcome cordial shortly after take-off, featuring flavours exclusive to Qantas such as lemon & elderflower, pink grapefruit and pomegranate & blueberry, plus an all-flight ‘grazing menu’.

“We have worked closely with Australia’s leading producers and suppliers to deliver what we believe to be the best inflight economy dining experience offered by any international carrier,” said Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.

Trials of the new dining concept were run on a number of international flights, with the airline sharing that customer satisfaction levels on those services was almost double the norm.

What’s on the menu: Qantas international economy

Included on the airline’s new list of dishes is smoky barbecue beef with roasted sweet potato, broccoli and corn, appearing as the destination-based option on selected flights to Los Angeles, Dallas/Fort Worth and New York.

You’ll also come across the barramundi – poached in a lightly-spiced coconut sauce with noodles, sugar snaps, Choy sum and chilli…

… honey roasted chicken farro salad and seasonal vegetables with pumpkin and sesame seeds; and the spiced lamb koftas with tomato, Riverina feta and roast potatoes:

Pulled beef sliders with capsicum and tomato relish, Weis ice cream bars, Maltesers and fresh fruit are among the 'grazing menu' options to appease hungry flyers in between meals, while Lindor Lindt balls accompany the tea and coffee service.

Download a sample menu: Australia to North America [PDF, 1.7MB]

Whatever your preference, we'd suggest heading to the Qantas website and using the Select on Q Eat service to choose your inflight meal at least 12 hours before departure.

When you’ll find the new menu on board

Qantas’ revamped inflight economy dining will progressively take to the skies over the coming months, with the launch date varying by route:

  • Melbourne-Dubai-London: November 25
  • Sydney-Dubai-London: November 26
  • All trans-Tasman flights: November 28
  • Perth-Auckland: December 5
  • Los Angeles, New York, Dallas/Fort Worth flights: December 9
  • Sydney-Vancouver: January 3 2015
  • All Singapore flights: January 13 2015
  • All Hong Kong flights: February 10 2015
  • Santiago, Johannesburg, Honolulu, Bangkok, Shanghai, Narita, Manila, Jakarta and Noumea: March 1 2015

The move follows the introduction of boxed dinners in economy on Qantas' domestic flights in September, which also saw larger portions for passengers and Lindor Lindt chocolate balls added to the menu.

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Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 May 2012

Total posts 371

Looks great!  However, can't even get Eat on Q in a Business to Honolulu!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jul 2014

Total posts 142

What a great idea, Qantas is making some great changes.

20 Apr 2014

Total posts 93

Good to see the portion sizes start to return to something more reasonable, apart from the Eat on Q option nothing new to see really apart from a new geometric design, removal of the tray and some fancy cordial.

I think they are really struggling to state it's the best Y food in the world - Alan Joyce should try Singapore Airlines in Y: cocktails, hot towels and generous portions.

30 Aug 2013

Total posts 442

If only it looked like that in real life!

therealqueen Banned
therealqueen Banned

19 May 2014

Total posts 40

Cost cutting at its best.

an airline that has mastered the art of cheap.

fancy seving bread rolls directly into paper napkin then placed on tray.

dirty and unhygienic, hopefully trays have been cleaned.

no salad no desert!

I would rather travel in luggage than economic

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1251

You don't know how they will serve the bread roll. The sample menu actually says it'll be garlic bread (at least on that flight).

There could be a desert depending on what route you fly. There is a chocolate mousee shown on the sample menu.

"You don't win friends with salad", Homer & Bart Simpson.

I'm not sure what the menu options are for the cargo hold... I'd love a review after your next flight.

Maybe it will be like that film Soul Plane, where they pass a bucket of chicken around and tell each passenger to take a piece and share a napkin! LOL

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1251

Well, doesn't JAL offer KFC on some flights? Perhaps the communal bucket is the next step.

That's a valid point. Where will the garlic bread and home style muffin be served? Will these be served in a receptacle of some sort? Will everything besides the mains be pre-packaged (like the mousse)?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Sep 2014

Total posts 21

Then pack yourself in box and get your master to glad wrap you at the airport. Or you could just not eat what you're comfortable eating but still have a decent seat to sit in compared to a pallet in the belly of a plane. Or wait, are you just taking a lame attempt at bagging Qantas? If it's the latter, don't waste your precious 'queen' time reading articles about them. 


Have you thought critically before offering a response? Therealqueen has a valid point. Questioning this does not in anyway equate to a criticism of Qantas.

Have a think for a moment. If you're sat there in your seat, the plane is at full capacity, there is no spare seats (and seat back tables). The crew hands you a piece of (presumably) warm and greasy garlic bread. Where will you out it? Will you hold it in your hand as you try to open the cutlery package? Or perhaps you'll be forced to stack it on the main meal served on the plate and as a result get the bread soggy with sauce/gravy? 

Think please. It's not just an attack even if it sounds like it.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2207

Actually, let's try thinking out of the box (please excuse my zillionth bad pun on AusBT).

How about handing out garlic bread with a serviette before the main meal service? Let's assume we're in an A330-300. We have two Economy cabins: the one between doors 2/bulkhead and doors 3/toilets, and the one between 3/toilets and 4/rear galley. We'll run the service from the front of each cabin to the back.

I'm assuming we have access to more trolleys than ever, but because we'll need shorter stops, this should work. We have the following services:

  1. Takeoff beverage.
  2. Garlic bread with napkin.
  3. Main plate.
  4. Dessert item with tea/coffee/hot chocolate.

I think it's doable.

PS: Has anyone noticed they've cut the side salad?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Aug 2012

Total posts 210

I agree that the service of bread rolls on a little paper napkin is pretty ordinary and unhygenic.  The trays are NEVER cleaned, at least not by Qantas! A packet of antiseptic wipes will be an essential item in your bag if you are stuck in Y. Not a peep about changes in PY though~ hope they never ditch the signature white 'tablecloth'  in the name of cost-cutting!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Jul 2013

Total posts 207

If the food onboard is so important, fly Business or First!

Looks good!!!

Are these "new serving plates" plastic reusable plates, cheap microwave dinner containers or china plates?

Does anyone know?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Aug 2012

Total posts 210

They look likethe trays I buy the cat mince in, except white. They are either recyclable or throw away.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Apr 2013

Total posts 30

Looks good! Just have to say that one issue I have noted flying Qantas, more than when on other airlines is that food quality returning to Australia is always far less than the awesome food leaving Australia. If I were Qantas I'd try and make those overseas catering stations lift their game a bit. I guess this reflects well on the Australian catering teams though. 

04 Nov 2012

Total posts 213

At least its not in a cardboard box. Looks like nice meals only time will tell.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1244

Does anyone else actually like having a tray when in Y?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2207

I can have a tray any time I want. A leisure flyer I know managed to convince the FAs the trays wouldn't end up on eBay, and one of them was gifted to me.

Would you know where to get the plastic containers?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Mar 2012

Total posts 211

Good to see QF finally trying to win customers rather than just cut. Pity that it really only benefits people in Sydney, Melbourne & Brisbane. Still, it's a good start. 

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 15

From everything I've read, I'm still unsure as to how they serve food this way *and* save time. As I understand they serve a larger main (with perhaps bread) and then do they bring around each other item? I'm confused. Surely this adds time, instead of having everything already on ONE tray. 

On a side note, I hate how Qantas serve those pre-packaged desserts instead of freshly made by catering. 


15 Apr 2011

Total posts 580

Most of the time savings onboard will be in the collection process. It's far, far quicker to just go around with a garbage bag and stick everything in that than to collect individual trays, rearrange them to fit in the trolley then put them all away. 

But for Qantas, the majority of the savings will be on the ground. Being able to give the catering teams a bunch of empty trolleys and a pile of garbage bags rather than hundreds of dirty trays and thousands of dirty dishes/glasses etc will probably save them tens of millions of dollars a year across the entire airline. 

As with any change like this, the benefit to Qantas is far, far greater than the benefit to their customers (though that isn't a bad thing at all if it means a win-win like I think it does in this case).  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2207

It is a cost-cutting enhancement that has enough customer-end improvements to be a win-win, but as you've noted, the saving of back-end and on-board processing time is where the real gains are.

Still, having more choices, being able to preselect online and the new mocktail aren't bad things. I definitely like the direction this is going in, where the focus is on the content rather than the hardware. On the SIN redeye, I certainly would welcome a boxed breakfast that's 50% larger!


16 Nov 2011

Total posts 595

Read somewhere else that it is speedier to deliver it too as more meals fit into the one trolley, so less trips back to the galley. Apparently it is good enough for Virgin Atlantic.


30 May 2011

Total posts 37

Should be giving Qantas the thumbs up for at least trying to improve its product and listening to customers feedback. There are much more mediocre products on 5 star airlines such as chicken rolls for breakfast. 

therealqueen Banned
therealqueen Banned

19 May 2014

Total posts 40

Why not throw the slops at the animals as they shuffle into economic. This would be a more customer focused approach to service delivery, even occasionally throwing food to the floor and letting the platys fight it out. Mwahhh

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Oct 2014

Total posts 5

Well, If you live in Perth youll never get to taste or experience theses changes, AS QANTAS HAS NO INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS FROM HERE, thanks Allan Joyce, your really looking after the West

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2453

While it isn't year-round, Perth-Auckland gets the new catering from early December as above...

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

14 Feb 2014

Total posts 33

the're just catching up to other airlines, nothing else for years they've been serving baby meals with pea sized apples

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Aug 2012

Total posts 210

OK, so they may save 30 minutes/meal service with the new arrangement, but what do the FAs do with that extra time? It just means that they disappear 30 minutes earlier. There is a lot of down-time for crew on the long routes. I guess they will be very happy with the new deal.


16 Nov 2014

Total posts 15

Will believe it when I see it! given that flying to Europe QF is merely a branch airline for Emirates, other than QF1/2 thru to LHR. Coming back from Dubai to SYD on QF2 in Y a few days ago I was presented with a salad - but no dressing whatsoever, merely a lemon wedge. Now this may/maynot be cutting a few cents by saving on vinaigrette sachets but this sort of pennypinching shows QF catering to be rubbish compared to EK. The choices seem merely trickle down from that given to Prem.Economy - and that is not worth 2 times cost of Y. It will be years before I choose QF for its catering since the vast majority of my flights are largely by choice on EK codeshares with QF


20 Nov 2014

Total posts 7

I cant believe that Qantas is prepared to SPEND more money on inflight catering.

Two months ago My wife and I flew SNG/SYD in QF Premium Economy and for breakfast they served CROISSANTS. We rejected it with disdain and the nervous FA offered us three more coffee's. That killed any future plans in flying QF. This Airline has a reputation for being very stingey with the food they serve.

Conversley Etihad pax in economy were served a "Full Breakfast" that was far superior to QF premium economy.

It just does not surprise me that QF did not make it to the list of The Worlds Top Ten Airlines Skytrax awards.


07 Jun 2013

Total posts 18

I'm assuming you meant SIN and not SNG as that'd be flying from Bolivia and I can't recall the last time a route like that ever existed.


Oh and you're drawing a very bad comparison. AUH-SYD is a very long flight compared to SIN-SYD. It's common on a lot of airliners these days to see one meal service or another cut down on shorter flights. SIN to BNE on EY just switches it around and would probably be a better comparison.

23 Mar 2015

Total posts 1

I had the displeasure of being served the new international economy menu on QF flights on a recent return SYD - SIN trip.  The food served in a plastic bag resembled of a doggy bag.  Gone were the salad, main and something sweet on a tray.  What we got instead was something on a larger plastic plate that was barely edible.  The SYD - SIN trip lunch menu was vegetarian noodles.  I overhead the passenger in front of me asking a flight attendant where were the noodles.  The sauce had so much corn starch, it could be used for glue.  It was sickeningly sweet that it could be mistaken for desert.  I think some of the new microwave dinners have better flavour than the Qantas meal.  I skipped the dinner on SIN - SYD flight, as the menu was hardly appetising.  Come breakfast time, I was further disappointed to be served some microwave pastry with bacon flavour, and a small non-descriptive tub of yoghurt with one single strawberry plonked in the middle.  I think the domestic breakfast of milk, muesli, fruit and juice is a better option than this greasy, plain and barely edible "stuff" on the international haul.

I don't know what other people think about the new international economy dining experience as a regular fee paying passenger.

Qantas is probably the only airline in the world which doesn't use trays in its meal service. With the international services revamped, I'm probably going to be more hungry on Qantas (I'm not a big fan on inflight snacks) because I usually eat the appetiser, main course, bread, cheese and dessert to be filled. They say the portions are bigger, but I don't see the difference between the older and newer plates. I guess Qantas is a bit of a mixed bag for me. 

02 Feb 2012

Total posts 3

2 years on - I was one of the unfortunates who suffered this change of food by Qantas.  No salads, no variety, they ran out of 2 of the choice of 4 main courses. One meal and one snack pack full on carbohydrates from London to Dubai at 2 hours and 7 hours from the start -- then one snack pack and one almost breakfast meal at 2 hours and 8 hours on Dubai Melbourne leg.  Felt quite sick as this is not the sort of food I generally eat.  So my friend has just travelled Sydney to London via Dubai September 2016 and just told me she had the most dreadful food... I was able to describe it in detail.  This sort of saving is despicable.  I am about to book a FF flight to London and will be choosing Emarites if possible not Qantas just to make sure we get decent food.

02 Feb 2012

Total posts 3

BTW on my flight in November 2014 when all this started - I asked for a complaint form and was told they had none but given a piece of paper to write comments.. I never received a reply.  One of the cabin staff empathised with me and said they too had bad food now (probably he was speaking out of turn) and he said the crew now buy food at Heathrow and Dubai and take it on board with them so that they don't have to eat the Qantas Food!

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