Virgin Atlantic will soon make economy passengers pay for preferred seats

Mar 3, 2021

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Virgin Atlantic is further aligning itself with Delta Air Lines, as well as its joint-venture partners Air France and KLM. Effective later this month, the airline will relabel some of its economy seats as Preferred Seats, requiring that passengers pay an added amount to select them.

More specifically, the more Preferred Seats in the economy cabin will include the same as those seen with Delta and other partners. They will be seats near the front of the cabin, exit row seats and duo seats (two seats with no middle seat.).

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Preferred seats will cost about $42 for those passengers traveling on full-fare economy tickets. Those traveling in Economy Light, which is Virgin’s basic economy fare, will have to pay about $56 for a Preferred Seat.

The change goes into effect March 15, with the first flights in the new price and seating structure to take off from July 5. The airline will notify passengers with existing economy bookings as of Wednesday, giving them a 12-day window to lock in seat selection for free. After March 15, Preferred Seating will be an option for all bookings and they must be purchased.

Like Delta, Air France and KLM’s preferred seating options, elites will be entitled to Preferred Seats free of charge. More specifically, Gold members, which is the highest level of status in the Flying Club program, will be able to select a Preferred Seat without any additional cost. Additionally, Delta Platinum and Diamond members will be able to select a Preferred Seat for free. Silver and Red Flying Club members will have to pay.

“The introduction of preferred seating provides our Economy Light and Economy Classic customers more choice and control so they can choose a location in the cabin that suits them,” a Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said in a statement. “That could be seats near the front of the aircraft to aid a speedy flight connection, an exit seat to stretch out in, or ‘duo’ seats for couples. Preferred seating also provides a consistent customer experience with our Joint Venture partners, Delta Air Lines, Air France and KLM.”

Customers who have already selected a Preferred Seat on a booking will not be charged retroactively. However, if they wish to move to a different Preferred Seat, they will be charged.

In total, Virgin Atlantic says that about 30% of its aircraft economy cabins will be made up of Preferred Seats. The other, non-Preferereed Seats in the economy cabin will still be available to reserve free of charge for economy passengers. However, Economy Light passengers will still be charged to reserve any seat.

This is the latest change from Virgin Atlantic that aligns the carrier with Delta Air Lines. Delta owns 49% of Virgin Atlantic.

Related: A devaluation, softened: Virgin Atlantic confirms Delta US to Europe flights will be honored at previous rate

Featured photo by Jean Arnas/The Points Guy.

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