Understanding the differences between Virgin Atlantic’s 3 economy fare types

Mar 7, 2020

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.

Virgin Atlantic offers three different cabins on its aircraft: economy, premium economy and Upper Class (its version of business class). But did you know its economy cabin offers three very different fare types?

For starters, all three economy fare types include the following, which you would expect from a full-service Virgin Atlantic flight:

  • A seat in the economy cabin of the aircraft;
  • Hand luggage on board;
  • All meals, snacks and drinks;
  • In-flight seat back entertainment; and
  • The ability to earn Flying Club miles for the flight.

The three fare types, called Light, Classic and Delight then differ as follows:

Category Economy Light Economy Classic Economy Delight
Checked baggage Not included 1 x 50 lb bag* 1 x 50 lb bag*
Seat selection Available during check-in process (can pay $40 extra to select in advance) Available anytime Available anytime
Seat type Standard legroom seat Standard legroom seat Extra legroom seat
Upgrade with Flying Club miles No Yes Yes
Priority check-in No No Yes
Priority boarding No No Yes

*Passengers flying to or from Delhi, Mumbai, Lagos and Johannesburg have a different baggage allowance.

So why are there three different options for the same cabin? Virgin says it is about giving passengers more choice in how they travel and not paying for things they don’t want or need. Don’t need checked luggage for a cheeky weekend in NYC? Don’t pay for it. Really want seat selection to ensure you sit next to your travel partner? There’s that option there, too. Economy Delight comes with loads of perks that airlines usually reserve for their elite status members who are flying economy — now everyone has the choice to pay for these benefits.

The three options also help Virgin compete with Norwegian on many of the same routes to the United States, which offers very low headline fares similar to the Economy Light option with Virgin. Where you see fantastic sale fares advertised with Virgin Atlantic, it will most likely be Economy Light options. I would argue that an Economy Light fare with Virgin would be better than the same on Norwegian, as Norwegian does not include a cabin bag, food or drinks for free on its cheapest fares, whereas Virgin Atlantic does.

Related: Norwegian Air implements fees for cabin bags, increases checked-luggage allowance

Photo by Jean Arnas/The Points Guy
(Photo by Jean Arnas/The Points Guy)

How much does each option cost?

Looking at a return trip on the busy London to New York route in March I can see fares priced as follows:

  • Economy Light — $350
  • Economy Classic — $481
  • Economy Delight — $573

So for a cheap sale fare, Classic is $130 more than Light, or almost 40% more. Delight is around 20% more than Classic and more than 60% more expensive than Light.

There are two ways to look at this. You could take the position that Light is incredibly cheap for a trans-Atlantic flight on a full-service airline — Norwegian may be a similar price and also not include seat selection or checked bags but it won’t include a cabin bag and food and drinks like Virgin does.

Another way to look at it is that the Classic and Delight fares are significantly more expensive than the Light option, so consider if you need all those extras that are bundled together in Classic and Delight fares if you are trying to decide between the three. If you can get away with hand luggage only for a long weekend and don’t want to upgrade your fare with miles, remember that you can pay $40 per person for seat selection if you wish — even doing that both ways you’ll still save money versus the Classic price.

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

Bottom line

Virgin Atlantic has split its economy cabin into three different fare options. You only need to pay for what you use and you have the choice between very cheap fares without any bells and whistles through to fares with just about everything you could possibly offer an economy passenger. Always keep in mind that Virgin Atlantic is a full-service airline so you can earn miles as well as enjoy food, drinks and entertainment on all flights.

Featured photo by Nick Ewen/The Points Guy.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

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.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • 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
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.