Virgin Australia has scrapped the free food offering in its economy class, with passengers only receiving complimentary water, tea, or coffee on flights. Anyone wishing to eat on board will have to pay.
These changes were revealed last November but were probably delayed with the Bain Capital take over. Virgin Australia sent out an email to customers on Wednesday to inform them of the new policy.
Customers who booked their economy ticket before 25 March will still be entitled to a complimentary snack, although they will have to flag a flight attendant on board to claim it.
The email explained that guests would still receive complimentary water, tea and coffee but that free food in economy class has been abolished.
A statement on Virgin’s website said the airline had “updated” its food and drink offering.
“Complimentary food will no longer be provided to guests who purchase our economy class fares. A variety of food and drinks will be available for purchase from our onboard menu.”
While Virgin has not yet revealed what items will appear on the menu, a spokesperson said it would feature “tried and tested items we know our guests love such as cheese and crackers and great Australian wine”.
The move comes as the airline prepares to unveil new meals for business class passengers on the same day free economy food ceases.
While it is not yet known whether a high-profile chef will still be involved in creating the business class menu (Luke Mangan had previously overseen Virgin’s business class menus), the airline is promising “plated meals” that will be unveiled at a function on Thursday night hosted by CEO Jayne Hrdlicka.
A Virgin Australia Group spokesperson said a recent survey found approximately 65% of respondents did not require a complimentary in-flight meal when choosing to book an economy flight with Virgin Australia.
“Our new economy buy onboard menu features the tried and tested menu items that we know guests love, including cheese and crackers and Australian wine, delivering greater choice and flexibility,” they added.
Business class passengers have been awaiting the return of full meals on Virgin since they were ceased last year due to COVID-19. The airline came under fire for serving up instant noodles to business class passengers on domestic flights during this time.