What is Economy Delight on Virgin Atlantic?
At the start of the year I reviewed an economy flight with Virgin Atlantic and ever since then I’ve been promising myself that I’d provide a detailed overview of the Economy Delight Virgin Atlantic product. So before year end, let’s review the (still relatively new) Virgin Atlantic Economy Delight benefits and hopefully answer that pressing question – Is Economy Delight worth it?
Let's break this post down...
Virgin Economy Delight Review
Back in April this year Virgin launched three new economy options – Economy Light, Economy Classic and Economy Delight.
Now Virgin Economy Delight shouldn’t be confused with premium economy which is a different product all together. The Virgin Atlantic Economy Delight’s benefits include:
- 34-inch seat pitch (31 inches – Classic and Light)
- Premium Check In (not available with either Classic or Light)
- Free anytime seat selection (also available with Classic)
- Priority boarding (not available with either Classic or Light)
- 23kg checked bag (hand luggage only with Light)
- Upgradeable using Flyer Club Miles (also available with Classic)
So why have Virgin Atlantic complicated things and introduced three different products? With transatlantic budget competition such as Norwegian Air stealing considerable market share from Virgin Atlantic recently by offering lower fares but charging for checked luggage, food and seat selection they’ve had to adapt to stay alive. With a cheap, entry-level price helping the likes of Norwegian to win business on online platforms such as Skyscanner, Virgin has had to follow suit and unbundle their entry-level product for a (somewhat) fair like-for-like comparison.
Ok, so let’s have a look in a little more detail at what the various benefits offer….
Virgin Atlantic Economy Delight Check In
Depending where you’re flying from, those travelling with a Virgin Atlantic Economy Delight ticket will either benefit from a dedicated desk or will be able to use the Premium facilities. Major hubs such as Heathrow T3 have the dedicated Virgin Atlantic Economy Delight check-in desks.
You’ll also benefit from priority boarding, however this is behind those in Upper Class and Premium classes so to me isn’t worth a great deal.
Virgin Atlantic Economy Delight Seat Plan
Each plane provides up to 36 Virgin Atlantic Economy Delight seats per flight. Depending on the type of aircraft, these will either be arranged in blocks of two or three along the side of each cabin. The Virgin Economy Delight seat plan for all Airbus layouts are in a 2-4-2 format which is great if you are travelling as a couple. The Boeing planes are arranged in a 3-3-3 layout. Worth checking before you book if you put value on sitting as a 2 as opposed to being in either a 3 or, worse, in the row of 4 in the middle. I’m definitely happy to pay a small premium to know I am only going to be sitting next to my travel companion rather than a stranger (especially on a 10+ hour flight).
I’ve set out below a Virgin Atlantic Economy Delight seat map to illustrate the difference between the two layouts.
Virgin Atlantic Economy Delight Seats
Before jumping into an overview of the seat product, some may find the below definition of seat pitch useful:
Seat Pitch: The distance between a row of seats – the measurement from the same position on two seats one behind the other. It is not the legroom area. See below.
Standard economy seats come with a seat pitch of 31 inches. With an additional 3 inches, the Virgin Atlantic Economy Delight seat pitch is increased to 34 inches. Whilst 3 inches doesn’t sound like a lot, on a long, transatlantic flight tall people will definitely benefit from that additional space. This compares to 38 inches in Premium Economy. As such Virgin Atlantic Economy Delight legroom is broadly half way between standard economy and premium.
Virgin Atlantic Economy Delight Food
As you can read in my recent Virgin Atlantic Economy review, I’m always pleasantly surprised by the standard of the free food and drink on board Virgin Atlantic. Unlike Premium, where you receive additional benefits (I’ll cover this in more detail later in this Virgin Atlantic Economy Delight review), there is no difference between food or drink offerings in Classic and Virgin Economy Delight.
Economy Classic vs Economy Delight
The differences between Economy Classic and Delight are as follows:
- Priority Boarding
- Priority Check In
- Additional legroom
- Guaranteed to sit as a pair on board the Airbus
Let’s now take a look at the difference in price between a ticket for Economy Classic v Economy Delight. Below is for a one-way ticket from London to New York in March. (Wow, expensive! Check the Virgin Atlantic deals page whenever booking with Virgin Atlantic as you may just find a bargain!)
I wouldn’t place any value on the speedy boarding (for me anyway, though if you’re travelling with kids this may be different), however faster check-in is always welcome and would have a benefit – let’s say I’d be prepared to pay £10 per person for this benefit. As I’m over 6 foot, something I would really benefit from is the extra legroom. I can justify the additional £50 for an exit seat with significant legroom on BA however wouldn’t pay £50 for an additional 3 inches – let’s say I’d be prepared to pay £10 for this benefit.
So the long and the short of it is that I wouldn’t be prepared to pay the additional £40 per person for the Virgin Atlantic Economy Delight vs Classic….
Virgin Economy Delight vs Premium
Now let’s undertake some further cost analysis and see whether Virgin Atlantic Economy Delight or Premium Economy offers best value for money. To answer this question I’ve highlighted the added benefits of Premium below and what I would personally pay for these benefits. This will clearly vary for everyone so you may want to run the same exercise and see whether Virgin Economy Delight or Premium would be best…
- Extra-large leather seat: With 38-inch pitch and 21-inch width (versus 19 inches), the seats definitely feel larger. On a night flight I’d pay a further £50 for the larger seat and say £20 on a day flight.
- Glass of bubbly on arrival: Always a nice way to kick start a holiday, say £5.
- Enhanced meal served on china with real cutlery and linen: Again, a nice way to start a holiday, let’s say £15.
- 2 x 23 kg bags: A small rucksack would last me a week. £0 for an extra bag for me I’m afraid…
- Premium amenity kit on night flights: Benefit on a long-haul night flight, say £5.
So I’d be prepared to pay somewhere in the region of £75 for the benefit of Premium over Virgin Economy Delight. Unfortunately the previous London to New York flight we looked at was a further £365 – well above my price range.
Using Virgin Flyer Club Miles to Upgrade
Now something we haven’t touched upon so far is using free Flyer Club Miles you’ve earned using credit cards to upgrade your flight from either Classic to Delight or alternatively Delight to Premium.
Unfortunately there isn’t currently an option to use points to upgrade from Classic to Delight, however below is the required points for an upgrade from either Classic or Delight to either Premium or Upper Class. I’m not sure why you would spend more to book Delight to then upgrade using points but Virgin Atlantic give you the option…
So to upgrade from Classic to Premium you’d need a minimum of 17,400 points for a return trip. Most people believe that this is relatively difficult to achieve – well they are wrong! The (free for the first year) American Express Gold Card (reviewed here) comes with a sign-up bonus of 20,000 points which can then be transferred to Virgin Atlantic Flyer Club when you spend £2,000 in the first 3 months. You can boost this to 22,000 points by using this link to sign up. If there’s two people travelling you may both want to sign up to earn 44,000 points…
With the Premium flight costing an additional £405 (Delight was £40 more than Classic, and Premium was £365 more than Delight) each way, in this instance the sign-up bonus with the Amex Gold Card could be worth a staggering £810. Worth thinking about if you’re booking a Virgin Atlantic flight in the next couple of months…
Virgin Economy Delight Review Summary
The Virgin Atlantic Economy Delight benefits over Classic include priority boarding, priority check in and additional legroom, however personally for me these features wouldn’t be worth the additional premium of £40 per flight. That said, if you’re really seeking to treat yourself and would like to upgrade from economy you may be best off using Virgin Flyer Club Miles to upgrade an Economy Classic (not Delight) to Premium… don’t forget to make the most of the American Express Gold Card which comes with an incredibly generous sign-up bonus of 20,000 points (22,000 if you use this link) which can easily be transferred to Virgin Flyer Club at a rate of 1:1.