All Virgin Australia flights between Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne now include free food and drinks for economy passengers – but exactly what can you expect to find on your tray table?
The menu selections vary by route and time of day, but at the core it's a snack rather than a full meal.
You can expect the likes of banana bread, muffins, biscuits, cheese and crackers, plus free soft drinks, beer and wine on weekdays between 5pm and 7pm (tea, coffee and water are free on all flights).
Australian Business Traveller took Virgin's snack service for a spin on a day trip between Brisbane and Sydney.
Brisbane-Sydney, 7am departure: VA916
Each passenger in economy was offered a carrot and ginger muffin plus a muesli and honey finger slice, and their choice of tea, coffee, juice or water.
Sydney-Brisbane, 7pm departure: VA981
The evening snack was a packet of Mainland Tasty cheese and crackers with a choice of beer, cider, wine or soft drink (along with the usual coffee, tea or water).
From the bar, interstate travellers will find Pure Blonde Premium, Carlton Dry and Strongbow Cider (Original), along with red and white wine selections from the Talinga Park vineyard in Riverina, New South Wales.
The crew didn’t seem to offer anyone a second round – in fact, the rubbish collection began before I’d had time to finish my first and only drink.
That's a stark difference to many Qantas domestic flights of a similar length, where the crew often provide a second drink.
Virgin Australia's refreshments are a welcome change to the previous ‘user pays’ scenario with the snacks well-suited to the time of day, although charging passengers for soft drinks outside of the 5pm-7pm window is a bit rough.
Your next Virgin Australia flight
Virgin Australia's economy passengers are currently being offered a snack item and selected non-alcoholic beverages on the following flights:
- Between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane
- Between Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne
- Selected services within Western Australia (including Christmas and Cocos Islands)
- Flights operated by ATR Turboprop regional aircraft
- Port Headland to Denpasar
- Melbourne to Kalgoorlie
A handful of flights come with a full meal and beverage service, with spirits and additional snacks available for purchase. These include:
- 'Coast to Coast' flights between Perth and Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne
- Direct flights to and from Denpasar (Bali), Phuket and Nadi (Fiji)
Travellers on direct flights between Australia’s mainland capital cities see beer, cider, wine and soft drink included between 5pm and 7pm on weekdays, while passengers on all routes not mentioned above are left with the existing water, tea and coffee freebies at the back of the bus.
Food fight at 40,000 feet
The free snack service on the Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne 'triangle' route is part of a trial to help shape the airline's new inflight menu, a spokesman for Virgin Australia told Australian Business Traveller, ahead of the introduction of free meals and drinks on all domestic Virgin Australia flights later in the year.
That move is intended to further close the gap between Virgin Australia and Qantas as both airlines continue their tussle for Australia's travelling public.
Qantas has long offered free food and drink to all passengers on all domestic flights and often holds this up as a differentiator against Virgin, along with the inclusion of free checked baggage on all tickets.
Additional reporting by David Flynn
Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT