Virgin Atlantic has today, Wednesday 7 March 2018, announced it is to launch a new series of tiered economy products.
An announcement has been made to the travel trade and press and Virgin has also posted a blog on its main website. However, the precise dates and means of implementation, other than a launch in Spring 2018, have not been confirmed.
In a widely anticipated competitive response to American Airlines and British Airways launching basic economy fares, Virgin is to offer three different economy products.
These changes also broadly align Virgin’s economy products to those of its transatlantic joint-venture partner, Delta Air Lines.
The three products are:
1. Economy Delight
This will be Virgin’s leading economy product.Passengers will enjoy a seat pitch of 34″. Virgin currently offers extra leg room seats for a separate charge. There will be up to 36 Economy Delight seats on every aircraft and Virgin is to retrofit these seats to aircraft.
Passengers will also benefit from priority check-in and priority boarding. It is broadly similar to Delta’s Comfort+.
2. Economy Classic
This is effectively the same as Virgin’s current economy product.
However, passengers will be able to select a seat at the time of booking for free. Currently, Virgin charges a fee for a seat assignment in advance of online check-in, except for certain classes of fare.
3. Economy Light
This is an entirely new fare and is the equivalent of “basic economy”.Passengers will not receive a free checked luggage allowance. Nor will they be able to choose a seat for free at check-in. These fares are also non-refundable and cannot be changed.
All passengers will receive continue to receive free food & drink, in-flight amenities as well as access to the in-flight entertainment system.
This move was inevitable, not only because American Airlines and British Airways are to launch basic economy fares, but also its transatlantic joint-venture partner Delta now offers basic economy fares. Though it has of course been done in characteristic Virgin Atlantic style. Announcing “Economy Delight” is clever move as it detracts from headlines about scrapping free checked luggage.
Separately, Virgin has also announced the introduction of automated bag drops at London Gatwick and Heathrow. The airline has also confirmed that the first of its 12 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft will be delivered from spring 2019.