Virgin Australia will now offer free food and checked baggage to passengers on flights across the Australian domestic network. The roll out of free food and checked baggage on all domestic flights as well as free in-flight entertainment is part of Virgin’s transformation into a premium, full service airline and part of its endeavours to chip away at Qantas’ grip on the market.
Australia’s second-largest airline said it would tailor its food and beverage selection to the time of day and the duration of flights, varying from a muffin and yoghurt to a sandwich and a drink.
Until now, free food had been mostly limited to flights between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
Serving complimentary food to all domestic passengers, whether in business or economy, was the initiative Virgin has introduced as it gradually transitioned from a budget to full service carrier under the leadership of chief executive John Borghetti.
The airline’s head of customer service, Mark Hassall, said the new offering was further proof of Virgin’s efforts to remodel itself as a full-service carrier.
“We’re delighted to announce that the Virgin Australia product offering now includes complimentary food and drink, checked baggage on all flights as well as entertainment across our domestic network,” he said.
“The rollout of free food and checked baggage, to complement our wireless in-flight entertainment, is an important part of our ability to deliver a consistent, premium service across our network.”
Virgin sources its food from caterer Gate Gourmet and its inflight menu is designed by celebrity chief Luke Mangan.
A spokeswoman said the extra cost of providing the complimentary food would not be passed onto passengers in the form of higher fares. “It has been designed to absorb costs,” she said.
While it was launched as a budget airline in 2000, Virgin has spent the last five years reshaping itself as a full-service rival to Qantas, which has involved flying twin-aisle A330 aircraft on transcontinental routes, rolling out new business-class seats and opening new lounges. It began offering wireless streaming on its Boeing 737 fleet in September 2013.
Virgin said it would continue to serve complimentary tea, coffee, juice and water on all flights, as well as wine, beer and soft drink between 5pm and 7pm Monday to Friday.