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Virgin Atlantic to Launch Three New Ways to Fly – Meet Virgin’s New Economy

It’s the way the industry is going; a fracturing of the traditional economy product becomes the norm. Instead of its traditional three cabin model (Economy, Premium Economy and Upper Class) Virgin Atlantic will be breaking Economy down into three different fare groupings, each with its  own benefits and rules. So let me introduce Virgin’s new economy.

So Why the Change?

It is unusual to see a long haul airline doing this kind of thing, shaking up its bread and butter. However, in the face of huge expansion from long haul low cost carriers, Virgin Atlantic has decided to move with the times. We saw a similar reaction by British Airways when it introduced “hand luggage only” fares for its short haul flights. They were also faced with low cost competitors.

It also reflects the different ways the world is travelling. Virgin has several key markets and has very shrewdly worked out what they need. Going on a retirement, golfing trip in South Africa? You will need a very different set of services to two millennials off to New York for a quick city break.

So with that in mind, here are Virgin’s new economy products.

VIRGIN’S NEW ECONOMY LIGHT

So here is the one you are probably all most curious about. What has been stripped back for Economy Light passengers on Virgin Atlantic flights?

With Economy Light you will get:

  • The cheapest fares available.
  • One hand luggage bag, up to 10kg (plus a personal item).
  • The ability to pay for one check in bag at the airport.
  • One free check in bag up 23kg ONLY IF YOU ARE TRAVELLING WITH AN INFANT UNDER TWO! (Sorry to shout, but I wanted make sure you paid attention).
  • The ability to pay for advanced seat assignment in a regular seat (extra leg room seats and exit rows are not available to Economy Light customers).
  • Airport check in and bag drop.
  • All the usual food and drink that you are used to on Virgin Atlantic.
  • Access to all the entertainment on the Vera system on board.
Economy Light
Who is Economy Light for?

I think that this product is perfect for those of us who have learned how to pack our lives into hand luggage. If you are just travelling for a meeting, a short city break, or if you are a backpacker, you can save money on your bag but still get the food and fun of a Virgin Atlantic flight. Great!

Who is Economy Light NOT for?

Forgetful people! Your ticket will be non-changeable, non-refundable and non-upgradable so you better make sure you are on that flight!!!!

VIRGIN’S NEW ECONOMY CLASSIC

If you have flown Virgin Atlantic before, this is the experience you will be used to. It will cost a little more, but for that, Economy Classic customers will get:

  • A more flexible ticket that can be upgraded, and changed for a fee.
  • One hand luggage bag, up to 10kg (plus a personal item).
  • One hold bag up to 23kg.
  • Free advanced seat assignment in a regular economy seat.
  • The ability to upgrade to an exit row seat for a small charge or to upgrade to Economy Delight.
  • Airport check in and bag drop.
  • All the usual food and drink that you are used to on Virgin Atlantic.
  • Access to all the entertainment on the Vera system on board.
Economy Classic

Who is Economy Classic for?

This is great option for families. Yes it will cost a little more but once you have factored in the price of advanced seat assignment on an Economy Light fare, you will probably be a few pounds up. The free seat assignment and chance to check bags in for free should ease some of the stress of group travel, especially with little ones.

If you can’t pack light due to a case full of instagrammable maxi dresses and floppy hats, or if you are going away for a longer trip, Classic is your best option. Once you have paid £45 each way for your suitcase, the Economy Light option is probably not the best value choice.

Who is Economy Classic NOT for?

The budget travel aficionado. If you are used to low cost carriers, just take hand luggage and simply want to get where you’re going, there is no need to pay the extra.

VIRGIN’S NEW ECONOMY DELIGHT

Virgin Delight customer will get:

  • One hand luggage bag, up to 10kg (plus a personal item).
  • One hold bag up to 23kg.
  • Free advanced seat assignment in an extra leg room seat. These are at the front of the Economy cabin.
  • Airport check in at the Premium desks.
  • Priority boarding.
  • Designated overhead lockers on board in the Economy Delight section.
  • All the usual food and drink that you are used to on Virgin Atlantic.
  • Access to all the entertainment on the Vera system on board.
Economy Delight
Who is Economy Delight for?

Are you planning a special trip? Maybe it’s a birthday jaunt to Miami, a once-in-a-lifetime tour to India or an anniversary adventure to Hong Kong. If you want to treat yourselves without breaking the bank, this is the option for you. Checking in and boarding with Premium passengers feels that little bit VIP, which is really fun.

I also think that it’s a great option for those long flights where the extra leg room makes a big difference. You may not notice it on a 6 hour flight to New York, but over 12 hours to Hong Kong and those three extra inches of leg room could really make the difference!

Tall people, are you ever stressed out that the extra leg room seats will all be gone when you reach the airport? This guarantees you one, and you can book one on the aisle ahead of time…if you are tall, you will understand just how important these things are.

Plus, if you are transferring on to another flight, being at the front of Economy could save you time for a tight connection.

Who is Economy Delight NOT for?

I’m struggling with this a little. I mean, again, if classic isn’t for you due to budget constraints then this isn’t either.

Other than that, it seems like a pretty nice option. Who doesn’t like more room and priority treatment!?

Maybe larger families with little ones as they won’t notice the extra room? Yes, let’s go with that. It’s only worth paying for it if your travel buddies will actually appreciate the difference.

Flying Fluskey’s Opinion

I have been doing a lot of thinking about Virgin’s new Economy products.

On one hand, I think it’s great that it opens up long haul travel to budget travellers or families who can afford the flights. We live in a world where we have adapted to squeezing our lives into hand luggage. I also think it’s fantastic that the food and drink, and entertainment remain the same. I have always enjoyed Virgin Atlantic’s food and drink provision (it’s nice not to have to fight for a drink in economy).

On the other hand, I am not a fan of the way the industry is moving. Norwegian has shaken many airlines confidence in their product. This has led to a scramble to produce a new way to travel with the more traditional carriers (Virgin, traditional….that’s something I never thought I’d say). When it comes to long haul, I like to know that I am getting the complete package when I book a flight. Virgin’s new Economy Light is not as extreme a strip back as it could be, but I can imagine it could put some people off, choosing to fly with a carrier with just one economy option.

Final Thoughts

Over all, I think Virgin’s new economy choices are a good thing. As a backpacker, with a hand luggage sized rucksack, I think Economy Light really works well for me. The Economy Classic product bringing back free seat assignment is a very good thing. Finally, the little touches for Economy Delight are nice, but I probably wouldn’t bother paying the difference. I can imagine my parents doing so though, and my more fancy friends (they know who they are). Mind you, if you are super fancy, you can just book an Upper Class Flight on Virgin Atlantic. Click here to read our review of the service.

Maybe these changes will teach another group of travellers to get savvy! As more companies move to slim down their costs and compete with new industry disrupters, I think this is something that we will continue to see. Stay tuned, the future is looking fractured!

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