Virgin Australia previews new business class menu

By David Flynn, February 5 2018
Virgin Australia previews new business class menu

Virgin Australia is changing up its business class menus for domestic and international flights, with the airline’s consulting chef Luke Mangan aiming to deliver what he describes as “lighter, cleaner, fresher approach” than Qantas when it comes to inflight dining.

That’s in keeping with what today’s business travellers want, Mangan says, citing a leaning towards lighter, healthier options.

“I remember when the hot meal was more popular,” Mangan reflects, “but nowadays more and more people, especially on long flights to LA and Hong Kong, are looking for a salad or a nice light soup or something like that. When I travel I find I go the soup or the salad.”

The new dishes will take flight from March on domestic flights, with June for international routes.

One of the standouts on domestic routes, Mangan says, will be a falafel with roasted mushrooms.

“It's got bacon, labneh and dukkah on it, it’s like a Middle Eastern twist on a big classic breakfast if you know what I mean, but it’s a bit healthier.”

On flights from Melbourne to Hong Kong business class passengers will be tempted by a beef wonton soup with Szechuan pepper and bok choy. “That's one of my favourites,” Mangan confesses. 

Asked how his Virgin Australia menu differ from a typical Qantas business class meal, Mangan cites “a lighter, cleaner, fresher approach.”

“I think my food ethos and the way people want to eat is that if I travel overseas on a long flight you don't want to be stuffed with food, and you want to eat when you can casually. You might allow the soup two hours into the flight and the other components (of) your meals a bit later.”

Virgin Australia will be hosting a media dinner previewing the new domestic and international be menus on Wednesday February 7, and Australian Business Traveller will have a more detailed rundown of the new dishes the following day.

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

04 Nov 2011

Total posts 359

I smell a cost cutting initiative, been drinking the same kool aid as Etihad.

AT
AT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 349

Absolutely Russell. Anyone whose had anything to do with catering (airline or not) will tell you “light” options = light cost, soups and salads are the cheapest and easiest things to produce and serve. In an age of “diet this” and “lite that” this is a very easy one to spin.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Feb 2017

Total posts 13

I agree that this must be cost cutting. As a WP with both QF and VA , I find that VA already sufficiently differentiates itself from QF in that the quality of the food offerings in VA J both domestic and international is far superior at present. I notice that others on this forum and other forums in the vast majority agree with this view when the subject of J food VA v QF is debated. Indeed one of the biggest complaints about QF is the lack of substantial meals provided in J on their overnight flights from Asia, something they are beginning to address. So to see VA doing something that QF customers have been unhappy about can only be for one reason, cost cutting, not market demand

07 Jan 2016

Total posts 32

No hot meal is business class ? Doesn't sound very appetising...

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2502

Relax, nowhere in the article does Luke say there won’t be hot meals, he’s talking more about passenger trends over the years and his personal meal preference in that context.

23 Oct 2014

Total posts 187

VA has always outscored QF on AUsBT reviews in the inflight food department in J cabin. Looks like more options not cuts, how about you give it a go then critique.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Feb 2017

Total posts 13

If it’s not broke why fix it

AT
AT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 349

Because it’s going to cost less.

AJW
AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 597

I don’t know why. In the past few months I have flow Virgin J for the first time, 5 business class sectors now and the food was just plain woeful.


The highlight for me were the olives I had on a flight from Nadi to Sydney. The main on that flight was duck and was ok but nothing of note.

On my other flights which is two short Canberra Melbourne hops and Melbourne to Perth I was shocked at how poor the food was in terms of choice and quality.

My last flight which was Melbourne to Canberra I went for the Greek yoghurt and fruit, which to be honest on a 7am 1 hour flight like this is more than acceptable. But what was dished up was awful. A tiny dollup of yoghurt and the this mess of overly sweetened summer fruits.

14 Dec 2015

Total posts 18

Personally I enjoy a decent meal when traveling internationally. If Luke Mangan likes his light soups and such, that's great, but don't inflict it on us.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Jun 2014

Total posts 11

Happy to wait and see what comes of Wednesdays announcements, but I agree with the others - my first thought was this just sounds like cost cutting.

06 Jul 2017

Total posts 22

One of the big attractions of flying J is the elaborate 3-5 course dining. Its ok if they introduce light options, but any attempt towards cutting down on hot meals would be looked upon as cost cutting and I for one will be tempted to look elsewhere.

13 Sep 2016

Total posts 183

Geez some people are a bunch of "negative Nancys", first reaction is to think the worst and "Oh they must be cutting costs and quality", why not curb that pessimism and just wait until Wednesday or better yet until your first business flight with Virgin so you can judge for yourself?

AJW
AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 597

Might be because of past history.

22 May 2011

Total posts 72

Let’s hope their refreshments service in between meals is more substantial then - memo to crew to expect more requests for snacks!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Jan 2018

Total posts 95

This is undoubtedly more cost cutting from a failed airline. Have regard to the standard of food in J on VA (at least domestically and short haul international), it couldn’t get much worse than it already is.



Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Nov 2012

Total posts 24

You must be on different planes to what I fly on, because I find the food in domestic J to be excellent, especially compared to QF. I still have dreams about the seafood mornay pie I once had flying to HTI!

bmc
bmc

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

22 Aug 2013

Total posts 172

Agree with majority of above concerns. Highly interested in David's forthcoming review. Hope there's more then bone broth and kombucha.

Zac
Zac

23 May 2014

Total posts 129

I prefer a proper meal with 4-5 courses when travelling J to LAX - it's a bit of an occasion. Especially as it's a daytime flight. Good food, wine and a few movies.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Jan 2018

Total posts 95

I couldn’t agree more. I expect as much from any long haul J service.


The fact is that most decent carriers, including QF, provide something to this effect as a matter of course these days.

VA just doesn’t know what it means to provide proper J class service.

06 Feb 2018

Total posts 4

That’s why they’ve won best business class two years running. Good stuff!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Jun 2016

Total posts 40

VA have obviously put a great deal of thought into this:

"A meal with a Middle Eastern twist" WITH BACON ???

Eli
Eli

30 Jul 2015

Total posts 103

I was thinking the same thing! Just amazing...and yes, its cost cutting.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 348

"Lighter, fresher meals..." This is code for cheaper meals and less of it.

23 Oct 2014

Total posts 187

Re read David’s reply above. And relax...

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

21 Feb 2017

Total posts 36

pretty dissapointed after reading the article, the headline got me excited, i was hoping for less fancy food (give me a steak or burger over the current business class menu anyday) i actually ask for the economy meal mostly, and for the entree the cheese and crackers packets.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

04 Sep 2015

Total posts 15

Yuk, I am allergic to Mushrooms , and soup, really, why does Luke Mangan say that is what he likes, what about us travellers that want to enjoy a great experience and food onboard, is the Bacon is Halal ?

How about surveying the actual passengers and see what we say!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

03 Oct 2016

Total posts 18

Like others have said, it's fine to add options but if I get on a flight in J and all I have to choose between is a soup or a salad (this has happened in the past) I will be cranky.


Va dom J food is very strange, the quality is always great but sometimes they have very polarizing dishes. A recent flight all they had was a very spicy curry dish (I can't stand spicy). It bewildered me that they didn't have another non spicey option.

I was hoping this article was meaning a positive change to this, not worse.

04 Dec 2017

Total posts 65

This is VA's version of Qantas' "enhancement" . Crap Pool/Neil Perry or this so called Chef are once again curtains to hide behind. Hire a famous chef - make it look glam while really cost cutting but try fool your premium pax by stating this is cutting edge and what 'we want'. Its gotta be good Neil and Luke said so!?

23 Mar 2012

Total posts 95

Such a retrograde step . The competition has never looked more appetizing!

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. I for one like a hot meal and a good break between service to aid digestion and get some rest. Modern trends are hardly moving away from hot meals, especially on long-haul. Healthier, yes. Lighter - can be satisfied by passenger choice. VA used to listen to its customers and respond. Now they try and tell us this is what we asked for. No thank you.

22 Jan 2018

Total posts 89

So maybe I hang out With the wrong biz Travellers but no one I’ve met has said they’d prefer a salad or a soup to a hot dinner. I don’t even know what This dude is going on about stuffing our mouths with food. It’s not as if airlines serve us a lot of food to begin with.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

26 Apr 2016

Total posts 24

I think the Soup/Salad Nazi has something to say about this:

"NO SOUP FOR YOU!"

14 Nov 2014

Total posts 6

I’m VA Platinum and for the last few years have travelled J domestically on nearly all of my flights. The food in my opinion has been very hit and miss. The breakfast omelettes are over microwaved and very hard, Then there is the Mexican bean breakfast, or the Bircher muesli.


Lunches and dinners are also very uninteresting. If you eat seafood, they might be great, but I do not and end with a salad.

I’m just wondering who was consulted to discuss the food ? A focus group ?

Many times I have written to customer relations about the quality and choices available and have been told these are passed on.

I’m hoping that there will be some good news after the launch.

Not my intention to sound negative, my opinions are based on what I have received in other J Cabins domestically.

Qantas also have sparkling wine on the 737, Virgin do not.


23 May 2011

Total posts 33

VA do have sparkling on the 737 in J and for sale in Y on flights after 12noon.

14 Nov 2014

Total posts 6

Hey Rob, thanks for that. I’ve asked multiple times in J on the 737 and have always been told they do not have it. How interesting. Is this new ?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 May 2015

Total posts 4

Had sparkling wine offered on both my SYD-HBA VA J 17.35 flight 22 DEC and back again HBA-SYD on the 10.10am departure 26DEC. Was offered, didn't have to ask, and refills as often as they saw the glass was empty...quite often! The food was excellent as well. GReat trip and crew.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Jan 2018

Total posts 95

One exception doesn't make a rule, I am afraid.


I agree with Brett's comments. Certainly reflects my experiences travelling with VA.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

30 Oct 2015

Total posts 64

VA's business menu has certainly gone down hill. Last week a "zapped" "tart". More like a cheap open pie with baby rocket sprinkled on top.... As a platinum member I'm questioning if I'm beginning to fly bogan air. Flying to LAX in business shortly, will the glasses be gone and beer only given in tinnies & wine in "goon boxes" in business? Better pack the flip flops for appropriate foot wear.

05 Feb 2018

Total posts 1

I recently flew QF MEL to PER business class, on the menu was a small bowl of soup as one of the entrees, one of the three mains was a large bowl of soup. By the time they got to me in row 4 guess what. No chicken pies left but plenty of soup!

What planet are these clowns on! I should have asked for an economy meal, I would have preferred a sandwich to a bowl of soup any day.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer P1

23 Aug 2014

Total posts 68

VA J last week

Worth noting that the Ayala NV has been replaced by the pedestrian NV Croser on the A330 to Perth in J, a real shame as this was a differentiating food/beverage item vs the awful Grant Burge on QF and offered upon boarding. The Bombay Sapphire has also been dumped in favour of the cheaper Gordon's gin. FAs noted many passengers are complaining.
I suppose this is necessary to stay afloat.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Jul 2017

Total posts 5

I agree with ian62 about the change to Croser on VA Perth flights on A330 - good to support Aussie product but the French fizz on boarding was a really nice touch and I think was worth the few dollars extra to management.

I also thought the quality of the wine was down recently - I am suspicious of "specially bottled for Virgin" labels - ? a discount batch

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Apr 2017

Total posts 128

I’ll be honest, I’ve eaten two meals on planes that were worth eating. One on Air Astana, one on Turkish Airlines. Both of these were meals I’d happily have paid for in a restaurant.


Now that the novelty of constantly flying business class has worn off, I just pig out on crappy lounge food and go to sleep as soon as I’m on the plane.

23 Oct 2014

Total posts 187

A recent article here pointed out sparkling available on all 737 transcons and domestic J complementary and on purchase in Y, the 737 J always has sparkling.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Nov 2016

Total posts 29

Wasn’t “lighter and fresher” also the terminology used when JB introduced boxed meals at QF?

Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

14 Apr 2013

Total posts 334

Somehow I still prefer QF Meals in J & in the lounges over VA. There have been times where VA has been better than QF but most of the time its the other way around.

obi
obi

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Mar 2017

Total posts 31

Oh OK, so Luke Mangan goes for the soup, so that means we all have to. Clearly he and John Borghetti think we're stupid. As I actually pay for my J class tickets, I'd like to retain the option to eat a hearty meal if I feel like it. Qatar provides a full range of such choices.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2502

Our preview of Virgin Australia's new business class menu is now live, and anybody who indugled in speculation that this was about 'cost-cutting' and 'cheaper meals' may care for a slice of humble pie :)    These  are restaurant-grade dishes. More at https://www.executivetraveller.com/virgin-australia-s-new-business-class-menu-takes-flight-march-7

AJW
AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 597

They may well be, but history suggests that where there is smoke their is fire. And frankly what I’ve read doesn’t inspire much confidence.


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