All You Need to Know About Eating Onboard Qantas

Qantas domestic catering will vary depending on your flight time and destination. Expect basic snacks and drinks outside the standard service meal times on most domestic flights. During meal times, expect boxed meals and snacks in economy class and something more substantial in business class. 

I’ve flown the airline numerous times this year in business and economy class, each flight completely different from the next. I also visited lounges in Sydney, Melbourne, and Cairns to experience the catering on the ground. 



This year I’ve visited Melbourne, Sydney, and Cairns lounges; my favourite is Melbourne. The business lounge is chic, some seats offer runway views, and most importantly, the food and drink offerings are miles ahead of other domestic lounges. Expect to see items such as made-to-order noodles and choices of sandwiches, antipasto platters, and desserts. 


During my visit to the lounge in December 2022, staff advised that it would receive a makeover to rival Melbourne. Currently, the offer is a self-service buffet offering various snacks and meal items depending on the time of day. Expect to see sandwiches, salads, make-your-own toasties, and dessert options.


I visited the Cairns lounge in March 2022, and while less chic than Melbourne, it offers decent food options, a coffee/tea/snack station, and excellent runway views. It’s possible to make your own toastie and select from several foods and drink items. 


In February 2022, I flew from Melbourne to Sydney on an A330 service in business class. I was looking forward to experiencing the onboard dining; however, before take-off, we were notified by the captain that catering had yet to be ordered for our flight. Catering on this flight consisted of water and pretzels instead. 

Qantas doesn’t delay an aircraft for catering which I understand entirely. The cabin crew advised that we would be offered compensation upon arrival in Sydney; however, Sydney was a ghost town on arrival, staff was nowhere to be seen, and most of the food vendors had closed, so I decided it was too hard to chase up.

I can deal with no catering and skeleton staff, but my biggest gripe about this flight was the cleaning standards of the aircraft. At a time when Covid was still quite rampant and airlines were emphasising their cleaning procedures, I was pretty grossed out to see this.

On my return to Melbourne, I was offered butter chicken with some bread and a Lindt chocolate on a dinner flight of just over one hour. The salad option had run out when the crew reached me, and I wasn’t too phased about not getting my choice. The meal was authentic and delicious. 


During recent experiences in economy class (Nov and Dec 2022), the airline has offered cheese and crackers or similarly styled snacks outside meal times. I have received a hot breakfast and hot dinner options like those below during main meal times. 


Maybe I was expecting too much on this three-hour flight from Melbourne to Cairns. But I thought it was ridiculous catering for such a long flight. I understand it’s a first-world problem but hear me out.

Snacks offered on qantas domestic flight from Melbourne to Cairns

If you market yourself as a premium carrier, your inflight product should reflect it. Offering cheap snacks that cost nothing is appalling. 

I was offered a small piece of cake and a limited range of beverages. I politely asked the crew if they had anything else, and they were able to give me some rice crackers. (I was starving as I rushed to the airport!) It’s not their fault. They were apologetic and went out of their way to find me some other snacks. 

A small snack of tomato salsa, chips, and pretzels was offered on the way back to Melbourne. 


The airline is trying to introduce better options at main meal times, but with no other premium airline competition in the country, they don’t try that hard. Sure, in other parts of the world, passengers are subjected to buy onboard programs, but closer to Australia, airlines are still offering decent inflight service on short/medium haul flights. 



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