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The best Virgin Atlantic economy seats

June 21, 2022
9 min read
Virgin Atlantic seats
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Flying economy can be a nice experience, and you can make it as enjoyable as possible by ensuring you get the best seat in the cabin. If you’re flying with Virgin Atlantic, there are some clear winners.

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To make things complicated, Virgin has three fare types in economy. Of the three types, Economy Delight is the most expensive, and it’s the only fare that includes any extra-legroom seats. So, to make it fair, we’ll focus on the best seats for Economy Light and Economy Classic passengers, as these are the most common.

Related: The ultimate guide to flying Virgin Atlantic

To learn more about booking a flight using Virgin points through Virgin’s Flying Club, you can read our guide here.

Which aircraft offer economy seats?

  • Airbus A330-300s.
  • Airbus A330-200s.
  • Airbus A350-1000s.
  • Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.

Virgin doesn’t operate any routes long enough to warrant an all-premium-cabin aircraft like Singapore Airlines’ A350-900ULR. Each of its aircraft has an economy cabin with anywhere from 185 to 375 seats.

Best seating strategy for economy across all long-haul Virgin Atlantic aircraft

If you’re flying Virgin soon, you’ll likely be flying on an A350 or a 787 Dreamliner from Heathrow Airport (LHR), as these make up the bulk of their fleet. Economy cabins vary, so it’s hard to say which jet is best. There are so many variables to take into account, and it may fall to personal preference. That said, the general rule is to pick the seats in the exit row or the front of the cabin.

Related: 7 tips for picking the perfect airplane seat every time

Instead of giving our suggestion of the best aircraft for flying economy, we’re going to focus on the best seat on each of Virgin’s long-haul aircraft instead. All of our top suggestions below are based on a solo traveler.

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Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Top picks: 53A and 53K.

The economy cabin on the Dreamliner is split into a smaller front cabin and a larger rear cabin of mainly 3-3-3 configuration. While there are some regular seats for passengers with Economy Light and Economy Classic tickets, these are D, F and G in the center of the cabin. Row 43 at the front is a bulkhead row, but it’s also where the bassinet is fitted.

If you want to be sure to get as much legroom as possible, you’re best off sitting in the larger, main rear cabin in Row 53 (which is also an exit row). The window seats in this cabin are also behind the wing, meaning your views will be less disrupted than in the forward economy cabin with the Economy Delight seats.

Related reading: Why pilots love flying the 787

Miles of legroom in row 53 of economy on Virgin's Dreamliner (Photo by James Oliver Cury/The Points Guy)
Miles of legroom in Row 53 of economy on Virgin’s Dreamliner. (Photo by James Oliver Cury/The Points Guy)

Keep in mind that there is no underseat storage in this row, and the inflight entertainment screen folds up from underneath the seat rather than in front of you. All things considered, this seat is more spacious than the front row of the Economy Delight seats.

Rather than paying the excess, it might be worth paying for an Economy Classic ticket (if you need a bag) or just an Economy Light fare and setting an alert using ExpertFlyer (owned by TPG’s parent company, Red Ventures) to let you know when seats in Row 53 are released.

While that’s not a fail-safe plan to get extra legroom for cheap, it might just save you $122.52 or so.

Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 economy seat map
Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 economy seat map. (Image courtesy of Virgin Atlantic)

Related: 6 features that set the 787 Dreamliner apart from the rest

Airbus A330-300

Top picks: 40A and 40K.

At 185 seats, the A330-300 has the fewest seats in economy compared to other Virgin aircraft. The slightly more compact 2-4-2 configuration makes avoiding the middle section of four seats in the middle of the cabin even more important than usual.

Quite the opposite to the Dreamliner, the best regular economy seats on the Airbus A330-300 are actually in the forward, smaller economy cabin as the Economy Delight seats are situated farther back.

Row 40, the front row at the bulkhead, features the most legroom, but the views from the windows are disrupted by the wings. The bassinets are also situated in this row. Still, compared to the other options, this would be my top pick for economy on the A330-300.

Row (Photo by Nick Ewen/The Points Guy)
The bulkhead seats in Row 40 of the A330-300. (Photo by Nick Ewen/The Points Guy)

If good views from the window take priority for you, then one of the window seats in the main cabin in Row 57 might be better.

Related: How to read an aircraft seat map

Service on this aircraft is likely to start from both the front and back of the cabin, meaning that if you’re in the middle of the two cabins then you’re likely to have to wait longer for your food.

Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330-300 economy seat map. (Image courtesy of Virgin Atlantic)

Airbus A330-200

Top picks: 21A, 21K, 36A and 36K.

Economy seats on this aircraft are situated in a rather unique layout compared to other similar models in the airline’s fleet. Its 212 seats are in the same 2-4-2 configuration as the A330-300, but the Economy Delight seats with more pitch are in the forward economy cabin, similar to on the Dreamliner.

On the A330-200, the forward cabin features regular economy seats. This means passengers with Economy Light or Economy Classic tickets can still choose to sit in the front row of the cabin.

Related: The evolution of airline seating

This layout is a bit different from the rest of the fleet because the company bought these planes from the now-defunct Air Berlin.

That said, my top picks for this cabin would be 21A and 21K because they’re closest to the front of the cabin, usually meaning quicker service. They also have the most legroom of all the regular economy seats. The only downside is that the seats are on the wing, meaning the views are less than perfect.

Row 36 also has extra legroom, as it’s situated in the exit row at the start of the rear economy cabin, so 36A and 36K are also great options. The view from the window is better than what you'll find in Row 21. The main downside to these seats is they are right in the middle of the forward and rear galleys. In other words, passengers in this row are likely to wait for the longest to be served food and drinks.

Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330-200 economy seat map. (Image courtesy of Virgin Atlantic)

Airbus A350-1000

Top picks: 45A and 45K.

The second-most densely packed economy cabin in Virgin’s fleet belongs to the brand-new A350-1000. There is a total of 235 seats — its size is second only to the jumbo. You can watch our comparison of all three cabins on the Virgin A350 here.

The airline opted for a more compact 3-3-3 configuration on this jet. This means that there are nine seats per row in comparison to the eight per row on the A330-300s and A330-200s; you’ll have one extra person to disturb or climb over if you need to leave your window seat.

The 3-3-3 configured economy cabin on Virgin's A350 (Photo by Jean Arnas/The Points Guy)
The economy cabin on Virgin’s A350. (Photo by Jean Arnas/The Points Guy)

The good news is that the regular economy seats start right at the front of the economy cabin, with Economy Delight situated farther back after the exit row in the middle of the cabin. This means that you can choose to sit in the best seats in the house — 45A and 45K.

The Upper Class and Premium cabins on the A350 stretch out after the wings, so no matter which economy row you sit in on the A350, the window seats will always have undisrupted views.

Related reading: Crowd pleaser: A review of Virgin Atlantic’s A350 in economy from London to New York

Virgin Atlantic Airbus A350-1000 economy seat map. (Image courtesy Virgin Atlantic)

Bottom line

Regardless of where you sit, you should have a comfortable ride on board Virgin’s aircraft. However, you can always make it better. Hopefully, this guide will help you decide, based on your personal preferences, where the best seat for you would be.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Why We Chose It

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  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more