FLYING ECONOMY DELIGHT WITH VIRGIN
Virgin now offers three types of economy ticket (see table on page 50-51) – Light, Classic and Delight. Light is hand-baggage only (HBO), with an allowance of one item weighing up to 10kg, plus a handbag or small backpack. Classic adds checked baggage and free seat selection.
I flew Delight, with priority check-in and boarding, advance seat selection, checked baggage and 34-inch seat pitch (as opposed to 31 inches). Delight replaces the previous option of buying extra legroom.
Virgin says that, with the lead-in fare to JFK currently £300 return, the Light option is cheaper than anything it has previously offered before, even during sales, allowing it to compete with low-cost carriers.
On my A330, there were 185 economy seats (28 of which were Delight in what were the extra-legroom seats). Economy Delight was located in the second section of the aircraft. All economy seats reclined 5 to 6 inches, had USB power points but not AC, and a pillow, blanket and earphones. I had plenty of space to stretch my legs out. There were two restrooms at the front of my cabin section, and two at the rear.
The same menu is served across Economy, with a selection of three dishes for the main meal, plus an afternoon tea. Food was reasonably good and there was a regular drinks service.
The in-flight entertainment was excellent – the A330s feature the 9-inch VERA touchscreen system throughout economy, and a comprehensive selection of the latest films, TV shows, games and music, plus extras such as guided meditation with Headspace. Passengers can play their own content via a USB connection. Good-quality wifi is available in all classes on Virgin flights, charged at £4.99 for an hour or £14.99 for the entire flight. Throughout the flight, the Virgin cabin crew were upbeat, friendly and helpful.
So is Delight worth paying around £200 more than for Light and £100 more than for Classic? Light passengers who want to check bags will have to pay an additional £45 each way. Extra legroom, meanwhile, used to attract an additional charge of £50-£75 each way, but can now only be selected by paying for Delight; the same for priority check-in and boarding. Light passengers cannot upgrade once they have bought their ticket – though Classic can be upgraded to Delight or Premium. Advanced seat selection (included in Classic and Delight) costs a further £35 for Light passengers.
In my case, I could happily have opted for Light for shorter trips (the 10kg hand-baggage allowance would be adequate), but for a longer trip I‘d opt for Classic. Legroom isn‘t a problem for me as I am relatively short.
On balance, the changes offer passengers more choice in what they want to pay for in economy. Internet rates for return fares LHR-JFK in mid-October range from £400 for Light to £550 for Delight.