Passengers on a Virgin Blue jet hit by lightning today say they were scared as the plane returned to Melbourne Airport after aborting a flight to Launceston.

Flight DJ1370 was 10 minutes into its journey this afternoon (AEDT) when the 737 was struck "multiple times'' by lightning, a Virgin spokeswoman said.

The captain of the aircraft, carrying 117 passengers and six crew, made an immediate decision to turn back to Melbourne.

One passenger told the Nine network he saw a "couple of flashes, a couple of pops'' during the flight as Melbourne endured a heavy storm punctuated by lightning strikes.

"It was a bit scary,'' he said.

Another passenger, a woman, said the plane got "very jumpy''.

"There was a lot of turbulence,'' she said.

The airline spokeswoman said there was no panic among the passengers as the captain turned the plane around.

The jet was taken out of service for an engineering inspection and another aircraft was arranged to take the passengers to Launceston.