Virgin Australia is set to follow in the footsteps of US partner airline Delta by offering a new “enhanced” economy experience, by way of “Economy X” – a domestic equivalent to “Economy Space +”, which launched on Virgin’s international services last year. Those who fly Delta may also know the service as “Economy Comfort+”.
Basically, it provides a few extra inches (7.62cm to be exact) of extra leg room, designated overhead baggage storage and priority boarding and screening for a select number of rows. In the case of Economy X, this number of rows is (up to) five, and the service will be initially available on select Boeing 737 aircraft from 21st May 2017, with fares on sale from today.
The airline’s entire fleet of 75 Boeing 737s will be upgraded, with this expected to be completed by August. The airline stresses that the majority will be completed before the end of May, however.
So who can access the seats, and how much will it cost?
Well, for starters, the new service is going to be a big bonus for Velocity Frequent Flyer Platinum members, who can access the seats free of charge (as can their guest), be it on domestic or short haul international. Long haul international will still warrant a fee, though Gold and Platinum passengers may find they are able to get the upgrade for free when they check in, if they ask nicely, and where room permits.
For the rest of us, the seats will be available at a small extra charge, dependent on the route. When we went in to book flights under the “Getaway” Fare in June from Sydney to Melbourne, we were given the option to upgrade for $29 each way via the seat selection page. On the Sydney to Perth route, the cost was $59 each way. Note that the fare that doesn’t change even if you go for the more expensive “Elevate” fare.
For Domestic flights operated by Boeing 737-800 and 737-700 aircraft, Economy X will be located in Rows 3-5 as well as the Exit Row(s). The service will also feature on other aircraft – essentially in the seats that are already classed as “extra legroom”, such as the front row or the exit row. This is: Airbus A330-200 (Row 28), Embraer E190 (Row 12), ATR (Row 1), Fokker 100 (Row 12) and Fokker 70 (Row 11).
To clear up any confusion, the product formerly known as Economy Space + on both their short haul and long haul international services has changed its name to Economy X. The long haul service, however, also provides guaranteed first meal choice and a premium noise-cancelling headset – in addition to the legroom, designated overhead bin space, premium check-in and boarding, provided to domestic and short-haul international Economy X passengers.
This won’t change anything, however, for regular Economy guests travelling on Virgin Australia’s Domestic network – they will continue to enjoy complimentary food, checked baggage and entertainment.
Economy X seats are on sale now, and can be purchased when selecting a seat during the booking process, at check-in, at any time through Manage Your Booking on virginaustralia.com or through a travel agent.