Virgin Atlantic has introduced a ‘high tea’ service for its business class travellers, complete with mini cake stand and ‘coupe’ champagne glasses. When you’re paying upwards of four or five times the cost of an economy class ticket, you naturally expect some perks to come with it. But is the airline wasting effort on a British tradition nobody cares for either way, or do passengers expect, demand and deserve a little in-flight glamour?
While Virgin Atlantic isn’t the first airline to offer its premium customers an afternoon tea service, it does aim to recreate the experience of a traditional British high tea, serving scones with jam and cream, mini cupcakes, a gourmet tea selection and finger sandwiches with the crusts cut off. The service is only offered to Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class passengers on long-haul flights between Sydney and London via Hong Kong, where a return ticket will cost upwards of $8000. That price not only gets you the high tea service, but also all the benefits of flying business class, which is Virgin Atlantic’s top level of service. (There is no traditional first class cabin service on any of Virgin’s planes.)
The way I see it, travelling in business class is all about the extra legroom, not having to climb over people to get to the toilets and being able to sleep at least semi-reclined without interruptions. The frozen, defrosted and reheated food that you get on aeroplanes is usually memorable for all the wrong reasons, with food safety being more important than taste for obvious litigious reasons. And the food preparation process is the same for everyone, regardless of how much you paid for your ticket. There’s no reason to believe that Virgin Atlantic’s high tea food items will be prepared any differently, but if the main point of such a service is to make customers feel pampered, then that’s a strategy that I can’t argue against.
Do you appreciate being romanced by luxury in-flight meal services in business or first class? Or would you rather see airlines spending money on other things? Tell us in the comments.