By Demola Ojo
A few days ago, Virgin Atlantic announced the launch of three new ways to fly economy as part of a multi-million pound investment in the cabin for the 21st century traveller. The airline has introduced hand baggage only (HBO) fares. It has also announced an upgrade for some economy seats.
From spring 2018 (the airline hasnâ€™t stated any specific dates) it will introduce â€˜economy delightâ€™ â€˜economy classicâ€™ and â€˜economy lightâ€™ tickets. The three new ways to fly will allow customers to choose the product that suits their budget and travel style â€“ but never compromise on inclusive food and drink, unrivalled service, and inflight entertainment.
Economy light is essentially a HBO (hand baggage only) product as already offered by US airline Delta (which owns 49 per cent of Virgin Atlantic).
Economy classic is economy as it currently exists, but with free seat assignment and priority check-in and boarding while Economy delight is the most spacious of the options, for those who seek more space. Passengers gain 34 inches of legroom which is three inches more than normal. Although its price will be higher, it will still undercut premium economy where legroom and seat size are larger still.
The airline said details on pricing for the new products and the aircraft that will feature the new products will be available at a later date, though CEO Craig Kreeger added that its B787 aircraft would be losing six economy classic seats to make room for more economy delight seats.
Says Kreeger, â€œWeâ€™re unveiling the biggest change to our economy cabin in over a decade â€“ launching three new ways to fly and a host of other innovations on the ground and in the air as part of a wider Â£300 million investment in our customers. Customers can afford to be choosy and still travel in the UKâ€™s leading economy cabin.â€
Economy delight will offer the leading economy product of any UK airline. As well as extra legroom, it will offer priority check in and boarding as well as advanced seat assignment.
Economy classicâ€™s free seating assignment provides extra reassurance for families and groups that they can sit together while an economy light ticket will always offer Virgin Atlanticâ€™s lowest fare – making long haul travel affordable and accessible for millennials and customers jetting off on city breaks.
â€œWe always want flying with Virgin Atlantic to be more special than other airlines, and weâ€™ll never compromise on excellent service, industry leading food and drink and cutting edge inflight entertainment â€“ regardless of which economy ticket our customers are travelling on, theyâ€™ll be able to enjoy all this onboard,â€ Kreeger continued.
Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Atlantic, said: â€œWhen I started Virgin Atlantic I wanted to challenge the status quo and make flying amazing â€“ regardless of which cabin youâ€™re in – and thatâ€™s still true today. Weâ€™re unveiling a multimillion pound investment to make Virgin Atlanticâ€™s economy cabin the best of any UK airline and setting the bar for others to follow.â€
The three new ways to travel are part of a wider investment in Virgin Atlanticâ€™s economy cabin – delivering innovations on the ground, and in the air:
According to Virgin, it is investing in extra legroom at a time when most airlines are packing seats onto planes. The airline is retrofitting its fleet to provide up to 36 economy delight seats on every flight â€“ offering customers an even comfier journey with spacious 34 inch legroom.
All customers travelling in economy will continue to enjoy a three course meal plus complimentary drinks and snacks and for the first time, Virgin Atlantic is introducing automated bag drop at London airports, freeing up employees to provide a more personalised service where customers need it most. Four kiosks will open at London Gatwick this summer, followed by a further 18 kiosks at London Heathrow from winter 2018.
Every single seat in economy now offers a personal USB charging point, and every route offers access to high speed Wi-Fi to help customers work and play on the go.
Virgin Atlantic and Delta offer the leading transatlantic partnership, and the new economy products will offer a seamless experience for customers travelling with the airlines. economy delight, economy classic and economy light will complement Deltaâ€™s Comfort +, Main Cabin and Basic Economy products – always offering a three course meal , Wi-Fi, hundreds of hours of inflight entertainment and excellent service regardless of the ticket type.