Experience: Virgin Australia

Gone are the days of Luke Mangan-inspired meals in business class on Virgin Australia since Bain Capital took the airline over in 2020. Instead, the airline offers a ‘value’ offering inflight, minus the je ne sais quoi.

The airline does not offer meals when travelling in economy class on Virgin Australia. Instead, you can purchase a range of items from the onboard menu. Here is a look at the menu from December 2022.

Fresh food options include wraps and sandwiches (AUD$12) or Noodles (AUD$8.00). Cocktails are pricey at AUD$13 and $17, with beer and wine starting at AUD$12. On a positive note, the menu does offer Halal, Gluten Free, and Vegan/Vegetarian options.

In February 2022, I flew with the airline from Melbourne to Sydney for the first time in business class and then again in December 2022 from Brisbane to Denpasar. Here’s a rundown of my experiences.

THE LOUNGE MELBOURNE

Virgin offered a fantastic fare between Melbourne and Sydney, around $500 cheaper in business class than Qantas. Mask-wearing was still compulsory, and the lounge provided limited self-service options due to the pandemic.

The Melbourne lounge received a facelift in 2020 and opened in November 2020 after being closed for some time. There are all-day dining options (breakfast served until 1030), the Wake Up coffee station, and the Wind Down wine bar.

The lounge seats 500 people making it one of the biggest in the airlines’ network. The food offerings at the time were all pre-packaged/single-serve options. For breakfast, I opted for some scrambled eggs and coffee. The food wasn’t as good as I expected and had the taste and quality of hospital/canteen food.

MELBOURNE TO SYDNEY

This was my first experience with the airline’s domestic business-class product. Before departure, a choice of juice or water was offered.

About 10 mins after take off, the service commenced. Karen, the cabin manager, offered a choice of a Turkish Pide or a quesadilla, and I opted for the quesadilla, served with a pastry. The food was average, but the service from Karen was excellent.

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Overall it was a great flight. The next flight, however, was bizarre.

BRISBANE TO DENPASAR

In December 2022, I flew this sector to connect with Malaysia Airlines to Manila. There was no lounge access offered in Brisbane. On the ground sparkling wine or water was offered by the cabin manager.

10 mins after take-off drink orders were taken, I opted for some white wine. Shortly after the cabin manager took meal orders, I wasn’t given a choice of hot meals; instead, I was told I would have the chicken.

(For reference, the choices were mustard chicken with mashed potato and vegetables or gnocchi with creamy mushroom sauce) It wasn’t an issue for me. But the cabin manager offered the gnocchi to the two other people opposite me after serving me.

My only guess is that they were staff, he knew them, or they held top-tier frequent flyer status. It just seemed weird. He looked after them well during the flight, with alcohol and snacks delivered regularly to their seat (without them having to ask).

As for the food, it was adequate, not excellent, but it hit the spot. Also on the meal tray were some bread and cream cheese covered in zataar, and a walnut cake for dessert. The service took about 50 mins to complete, and no other service was offered during this six-hour flight.

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