Virgin Atlantic Splits Economy Class Into Tiers
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
On March 7, Virgin Atlantic announced that the airline will split its economy class into three tiers:
“Economy delight” offers passengers three inches of additional legroom over the other two options with a 34-inch seat pitch; priority boarding; checked luggage; and free seat selection.
“Economy classic” provides, well, the classic experience, with checked luggage and seat selection privileges but a standard 31-inch seat pitch and no priority boarding.
Finally, “economy light” makes travel “affordable and accessible for millennials, and customers jetting off on city breaks” by removing seat selection at booking and allowing only carry-on luggage. This fare does still allow you free seat selection, but beginning 24 hours before your flight, when checking in.
All economy travelers will share the same dining experience, with three-course meals as well as complimentary drinks and snacks from UK-local brands when possible. In addition, each economy row seat will now include a personal USB charging point, with high-speed WiFi available on every route.
On March 17, Delta updated its mileage chart to reflect how the new Economy Delight and Economy Light flights will credit to SkyMiles:
Meanwhile, the erstwhile “premium economy” class, which is a separate cabin, will remain the same, even though getting renamed simply “premium” class, with top-tier “upper class” also remaining intact. This means the airline now offers a total of five service tiers.
The split, which will retrofit each plane with up to 36 larger economy delight seats, represents Virgin Atlantic’s biggest change to its economy class cabins in more than 10 years, according to CEO Craig Kreeger.
The updates are part of a $417 million investment designed to address the challenge of competing against low-cost, long-haul carriers such as Norwegian Air. For many years, Virgin Atlantic has competed against British Airways for long-distance passengers traveling out of London. But as newcomer Norwegian continues to develop its base of operations out of London Gatwick (LGW), British Airways and other carriers have been forced to lower fares in order to keep up with customers who favor the budget airline’s price point.
Additional features of the new program include automated bag drop at London airports, beginning with four kiosks at London Gatwick this summer, followed by 18 kiosks that will be added in London Heathrow (LHR) come Winter 2018.
Furthermore, Virgin Atlantic will add 12 new Airbus A350-1000s to its fleet beginning in spring 2019, which will be pre-designed with the new economy-class layout. Finally, Virgin Atlantic has partnered with a Brit candlemaker to create a signature perfume called “Air.”
This article has been amended to include that passengers get free seat selection with the “economy light” fare, but only beginning 24 hours before flight. This article also updated on March 17 to reflect new Delta SkyMiles credit for the new classes of service.
All images courtesy of Virgin Atlantic
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at US restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
- Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees