Virgin Atlantic Introducing Basic Economy & Bundled Extra Legroom Economy

Virgin Atlantic has just announced some changes to their economy experience. Essentially Virgin Atlantic is aligning their products with Delta, given that Delta owns a stake in Virgin Atlantic and also has a transatlantic joint venture with them. Delta introduced basic economy fares on select transatlantic flights last December, so it’s only logical that Virgin Atlantic will follow their lead. That’s not the only area in which they’re aligning their product, though, as Virgin Atlantic is also introducing a bundled option that includes extra legroom economy seating.

Virgin Atlantic is brilliant at marketing, so as you’d expect, they’re not just calling this “basic economy” and “extra legroom economy,” but rather they’re marketing it differently. Virgin Atlantic is claiming that they’re “unveiling three new ways to fly,” which is perhaps a bit of a stretch. The names of the three “experiences” are “Economy Delight,” “Economy Classic,” and “Economy Light.” They’ll debut in spring 2018.

What should you expect from each of these?

  • “Economy Delight” will be extra legroom economy, featuring 34″ of pitch, free seat assignments in advance, premium check-in, and priority boarding
  • “Economy Classic” will feature the same experience as before
  • “Economy Light” will be basic economy, offering hand baggage only, no refunds or changes, and seats only assigned at check-in

Here’s a comparison of the three types of economy fares that they’ll offer:

Virgin Atlantic will continue to offer premium economy, featuring wider seats, more legroom, and a different service experience. Virgin Atlantic says that Economy Delight will offer “the UK’s leading economy product.” I suppose that’s true, though it’s not saying a whole lot.

Here’s what Virgin Atlantic’s CEO had to say about this update:

“We’re unveiling the biggest change to our Economy cabin in over a decade – launching three new ways to fly, and a host of innovations on the ground and in the air as part of a wider £300 million investment in our customers. We know that one size doesn’t fit all, and from spring our customers can afford to be choosy and still travel in the UK’s leading economy cabin.

“We always want flying with Virgin Atlantic to be more special than other airlines, and we’ll never compromise on excellent service, industry leading food and drink and cutting edge inflight entertainment – regardless of which Economy ticket our customers are travelling on, they’ll be able to enjoy all this onboard.”

Bottom line

Virgin Atlantic introducing basic economy is most definitely a negative change, as we’ve seen time and again that it doesn’t actually lead to lower airfare. Virgin Atlantic has already offered extra legroom economy, though now they’re introducing it as a bundled product.

What this boils down to is that Virgin Atlantic is introducing basic economy and little else, though they’re trying to put a positive spin on it.

Are you surprised to see this development from Virgin Atlantic?

Comments

  1. Imho not clever to use both light and delight. Might lead to a lot of confusion for non-native speakers, especially in loud airport environments with unclear announcements.

  2. All these names will be confusing for even frequent flyers (if they frequently flyer other airlines but not VS).

    Personally, I don’t think Economy Delight offers much except maybe 2″ of legroom, which is worth something but not that much.

    Hand baggage only is do-able except not just a personal item only. Of course, I might start wearing worn clothes that are thrown away on the trip to create space for shopping.

  3. In twenty years of flying, I never found a reason to fly VS – and certainly won’t find one going forward either.

  4. Bundling premium check in and prioritity boarding with extra legroom could potentially cannibalize their premium economy offer that is often available for a small up charge.

  5. Max – Under what circumstances will there be airport announcements talking about Economy Light and Delight? Just about the only time will be when calling them for boarding – in which case they can very easily just not use the phrase delight but “all passengers with priority boarding can board now”.

  6. I’m guessing they don’t want or expect to sell many HBO fares. It just means their name appears at the top of the list when search engines look for flights and, as a default, rank the cheapest first. Sooner or later almost every airline will have this type of fare.

  7. You mention a few times it doesn’t lead to lower air fare, it may be true for the most part stateside but Aer Lingus have consistently had flights at €320 return from Dublin to the East Coast and €450 to the West Coast which is incredible. Admittedly that is also influenced by Norwegian but we’d never seen fares that low with EI before, it can now be cheaper to go to the US than Europe from Dublin.

  8. Anyone else find it funny that the picture associated with the ‘Light’ fare, AKA hand bag only is a lady putting a large roller bag in the overhead bin?

  9. I think the statement “basic economy is not leading to lower fares” is missing the point, even if correct:
    The legacy had to match the fares of LCC on transatlantic flights already – and are probably loosing money on it.
    Now, they/some are adjusting the product to make those low fares sustainable, and maybe loose less money…
    I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop: a Basic Economy hard product with 29in pitch, slimline, no padding seats and no recline…
    LCC in Asia already have that on long-haul flights, very uncomfortable…
    Many travelers just want the lowest fare – be careful what you wish for…

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