At exactly 6:12 am I receive an SMS message saying my taxi to the airport is approaching. I glance at the screen and instantly get a jolt of excitement, a feeling I often get when I am venturing to the airport. Today, is not a typical trip to the Airport, I am neither flying somewhere for a holiday or going to pick up a loved one. No, I am going to taste the delights of being served high tea at 40,000 feet, prepared by none other than Luke Mangan.

The event marks the third year anniversary of Luke Mangan and Virgin Australia’s partnership, as well as the airline’s recent acquirement of the seventh wide-bodied Airbus A330 aircraft, which from this month will operate from Sydney-Perth and Melbourne-Perth, weekday services.

This is the first for an Australian airline, so naturally I was extremely curious to see how it would be executed. On arrival, I had the opportunity to the meet the man of the hour and get an understanding of his inspiration behind the design. In preparation for the surprise, Luke Mangan’s team baked over 300 scones, produced over 580 sandwiches and brewed over 270 cups of tea.  Luke Mangan is truly passionate about each and every element he puts on the plate, whether it be the menu he designs for Virgin passengers or one of his many restaurants.

Meeting Luke Mangan, Mark Hassel and the Virgin Crew

After sitting on the plane for three hours, my curiosity about this special crafted  tiered high tea service only grew.  Finally, it was 1pm and time to announce the big surprise to the passengers; that they were about to witness the first for Australian airlines. As I glanced around I mainly saw sleepy faces looking confused and dazed;  but twenty minutes later that mask of confusion were replaced with a look of satisfaction.

High tea menu prepared by Luke Mangan for Virgin Australia

For the duration of the high tea service I lost sense of my surroundings and was immersed in a surreal setting of a first class high tea service.  It did not feel like I was 40,000 feet in the air but that I was sitting in the Victoria Room.

The high tea service, itself, was excellent, keeping it traditional but adding that modern twist we all tend to crave and expect nowadays.  Donned in white gloves the attentive flight attendants presented a spread of dainty finger sandwiches, delicate cakes and scones stopped with lashings of clotted cream and a selection of teas.

Luke Mangan and Virgin Australia crew serving High tea

Hot scones with homemade preserves that were as good as my Nan’s, and in my opinion, you cannot get much better than that as Nan’s scones were the joy of my childhood, after all.

Tiered high tea service with a selection of ribbon chicanes prepared by Luke Mangan

There were a wide selection of ribbon sandwiches from poached chicken, toasted walnuts, celery and basil mayonnaise; to herbed ricotta, roasted red pepper and basil.

Luke Mangan prepeared high tea service for Virgin Australia

As I ate my way through the goodies on my plate I become more and more impressed with what Luke Mangan and the Virgin team had managed to pull off, but it wasn’t until I tasted the lemon tart that I was truly impressed. It was exquisite; a rich lemon filling that oozed in your mouth with a golden crust, making a decadent tart which will be hard to erase from my mind.

High tea service with chocolate tarts, lemon tarts, cupcakes and scones

The aircraft itself was quite impressive and made for an enjoyable flight. It was very spacious, had comfortable leather seating throughout and inclusive catering and entertainment.

In all, the tiered high tea service hit all the spots and couldn’t have come at a better time being right in the middle of Good Food Month.

To view Virgin Australia’s flights departing Sydney-Perth and Melbourne-Perth, visit Virgin Australia’s website. 

I Ate My Way Through flew to Perth as a media guest of Virgin Australia


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