The most unusual Virgin breakfast


The Protein Plate breakfast on Virgin America. Perfection on a plane! (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

The Protein Plate breakfast on Virgin America. Perfection on a plane! (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Passion fruit muesli, a stuffed grape leaf, a boiled cage-free egg, fresh pineapple, marinated mozzarella and pepper jack cheese, olives, grapes and pita. The best lemon poppy seed pound cake I’ve ever had.

Only Virgin America could think up a breakfast like that! And that was just one of three first class breakfast options on my recent flight from Boston to San Francisco.

Back in March, Virgin America really whomped up its first class menus on long haul business flights between San Francisco and Los Angeles to Newark, New York, Boston and Washington, DC (Reagan). And it’s not just breakfast getting the royal treatment—snacks, lunch and dinner got an upgrade, too. Unusually good food onboard is one of Virgin’s primary weapons in the increasingly competitive transcontinental business/first class market.

Virgin's head of catering, Rob Gallagher (Photo: Virgin America)

Virgin’s head of catering & onboard service, Rob Gallagher (Photo: Virgin America)

Related: American’s new A321T transcon | United refreshes p.s. transcon flights

For example, passengers in Virgin’s eight-seat first class section now enjoy cocktail hors d’oeuvres of roasted tomato, marinated artichoke heart, olive and mozzarella on a skewer, served with warmed mixed nuts. At mealtime, there’s a choice of two appetizers and three entrees in-flight served on china, glass and linen. Oh, and there’s hot towel service, too.

After my bodacious breakfast from Boston, I reached out the Rob Gallagher, Virgin’s Catering & Onboard Service manager for a Q&A. Take a read and soak up those photos I snapped onboard! (Pardon the blue hue! Blame it on Virgin’s mood lighting…)

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I chose the most unusual breakfast offering. And loved it! (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

I chose the most unusual breakfast offering. And loved it! (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Tell me a little bit about what I chose for breakfast– the protein plate. Who thought that up? 

You can’t go wrong with fresh chicken or turkey, a small amount of cheese and a hard-boiled egg. In addition to the basic protein plate, we developed a few versions of the high protein low carb offering by adding other components like a grain salad or stuffed grape leaf. This plate was heavily influenced by our frequent flyers who let us know that they were looking for a healthy inflight option that was low in carbs but high in protein and most importantly, high in flavor.

Who makes that awesome lemon poppy seed pound cake? 

Sweet Sam’s Baking Company, Bronx, NY.

This is the hearty eggs & sausage option on Virgin America (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

This is the hearty eggs & sausage option on Virgin America (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Who thinks up exotic items like passion fruit muesli? 

Interestingly, the simplest things can be made exotic with a simple, small addition. In this case we played around with a basic creamy muesli recipe and took it to the next level by incorporating passion fruit puree.As the only California-based airline, we always provide travelers with seasonal and locally sourced food options. We work in conjunction with LSG Sky Chefs to develop menus using sustainable and fresh ingredients, including local fruits and vegetables, premium meats and artisan breads.

The most popular first class breakfast on Virgin: Yogurt, granola and fresh fruit. (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

The most popular first class breakfast on Virgin: Yogurt, granola and fresh fruit. (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

What’s the most requested breakfast item in first class?

In our First Class cabin, the fruit plate with granola and yogurt is our most popular item currently, followed by our fresh, cage-free eggs and sausage. Interestingly though, one of the most popular breakfast entrees ever was chilaquiles, a traditional Mexican dish made with corn tortillas, salsa, eggs, cheese and beans. Some of our most popular Disclosuresnacks are local San Francisco brands like the Sea Salt Caramel 479° Popcorn, Krave Basil Citrus Turkey Jerky and Cheddar Popchips.

Is the food served on Boston flights the same as on I’d see on JFK flights? 

The same eastbound and westbound menus are served on both of these markets. The ‘cherry on the top’ of our new service is the debut of our first custom ice cream flavor – developed in collaboration with San Francisco’s cult favorite ice cream maker, Humphry Slocombe. #ButterByMoodlight is a combination of brown butter and blueberry glaze and is currently served up alongside Humphry Slocombe’s Tahitian Vanilla on all SFO-originating flights to the East Coast in First Class. [Regrettably, no ice cream on my 9 am departure from BOS.]

Edamame hummus, pita and cheese served as late flight snack on Virgin America (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Edamame hummus, pita and cheese served as late flight snack on Virgin America includes SF-made Tcho Chocolates  (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Is breakfast this ornate on shorter haul flights? 

First Class guests on shorter flights are served smaller versions of our long haul breakfast menus – currently a ramekin of passion fruit breakfast muesli with a skewer of tropical fruit or edamame hummus with pita slices and an antipasto skewer.

What type of coffee do you serve? Where does it come from? 

Another San Francisco institution, Philz Coffee, is a brand we are proud to serve onboard all of our flights. Philz has cultivated a committed following due to their unique, fresh way of serving coffee. Currently we serve Philz’ Tesora blend – a brew that Phil himself refers to as his “first true love.”

A fine dining menu is one of Virgin's primary weapons in the transcon wars (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

A fine dining menu is one of Virgin’s primary weapons in the transcon wars (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

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Disclosure: Virgin America is a sponsor of TravelSkills and offered me a one-way complimentary upgrade off an economy class BOS-SFO ticket

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  • TV

    Virgin’s Economy fares can be pretty cheap and the seats are comfortable. With the Saving’s on a coach ticket i would gladly spend $20-$30 for a real warm meal (1500-2000 calories). I think there is money to be made off of people like me who don’t want to spend a thousand dollars on a first class ticket but would pay for some first class meals in coach.

  • thinker

    FWIW, this is similar to what United has in their Buy on Board breakfast menu:

    Morning Energy Selection – $6.99 (Vegan)
    Hard-cooked egg, cheese, grapes, breakfast roll and almond butter

    It’s my breakfast of choice on UA when I’m sitting in back (which is nearly all the time these days).

  • Chris McGinnis

    Thanks, AG. We do walk a fine line sometimes in the blogosphere and I’m glad you find value in our work! –chris

  • AG

    I can understand some reader’s
    struggles with objectivity but to this writer’s credit, he did state how he
    received the ticket which is something that isn’t always stated in other blogs
    and travel sites. While it is true that as the reader we should be free
    to question, but I would suggest if you are looking for 100% objectivity you
    turn to a resource that claims as such. As
    a travel and leisure life style blog the writer does an incredible job of
    sticking to the main mission of this blog. I find this blog highly
    informative and entertaining and look forward to more stories such as this “chomped”
    or not and I trust the writer to inform us of how he received such service so
    we can make up our own minds.

  • Chris McGinnis

    Hey there David: I checked with Virgin and a spokesperson said that YES, the Fort Lauderdale flights have the new enhanced menus described above. — chris

  • 2ruse

    i love virgin america, but the great majority of passengers won’t get anything close to the scrumptious offerings you had – on a morning flight to LAX from SFO recently (and i paid $250 each way since it was last-minute) we were offered in Main Cabin Select a small package of nuts and unidentified crisp things – on the way back (evening flight) the guy next to me ordered the snack pack and got the saddest conglomeration of stuff i’ve ever seen – a plastic-wrapped package of 3 small slices of salami, a similar package of pieces of cheese, and a few crackers – he took one look and pushed it away, and i don’t blame him (and we were both hungry) – they really need to provide something a little more substantial even on short flights within California to get total love

  • Chris McGinnis

    Oh, and those first class fares SFO-BOS are currently about $1500 each way. More than this blog can afford! :)

  • Chris McGinnis

    Glad you liked the photos and straight info! Sorry you are struggling with objectivity, but taking the upgrade was the only way I’d get to see the product first hand and report on it for ya and get those pretty pictures 😉 — chris

  • Chris McGinnis

    On the way to Boston, I was in economy and ordered a similar protein snack box that came with sliced chicken, some cheddar and smoked gouda cheese, grapes and pita bread and hummus. It was served in a compostable paper tray with a clear lid. Not as fancy as first, but just as good. I think I paid $8 for it. — chris

  • Global1st

    what was the product or buy on board item offering in the regular cabin?

  • Janak Parekh

    This is an excellent point, especially since VX First seats are hard to come by. Unlike the legacy carriers, first-class upgrades on Virgin are time-based first-come, first-serve 6-hour window. Even top-tier Virgin elites are still first-come, first-serve in a 24-hour window. Combined with the fact that there’s only 8 first class seats, it’s often difficult to secure one, unless you buy it outright (and spend the $$$ for a transcon business class seat).

    That, combined with the fact that VX First is now, by far, the weakest hard product (just recliners, when UA/AA/DL all have fully-flat business, and JetBlue will have fully-flat business in October) forces Virgin to up their game on soft product. Admittedly, that might be fine for a day flight… if you can get a seat. 😉

  • CR

    I’m struggling with the objectivity. While I appreciate your honesty and full disclosure, it’s hard to gauge a glowing review vis-a-vis a comped upgrade. That said, I appreciate the pictures and straight info. Bottom line, it kinda feels to me like Virgin America got their money’s worth trading the upgrade for the publicity.

  • LPLP

    As much as I have been a huge fan of Virgin since the beginning, I have changed my viewpoint of late. While, yes, the Tran-con flights got all of their attention, they took all of the funds away from their short and medium haul flights. What they serve in First Class SFO to SEA now is not only a joke, it is a pure insult. Basically, a 3 by 4 tray with a few pieces of vegetables. Also, if you want a drink, you now have to ask for it, or you will not get it. It’s a shame as I used to fly this leg 2 times a month and am now exploring the competition (which charges less). Virgin raised their prices but lowered their service considerably.

  • David

    My family is considering flying F from FLL to LAX next spring on Virgin America. Would this type of menu enhancement be available on that type of flight?