The Guide to Virgin Atlantic Economy

Every economy passenger gets perks that other airlines charge for, including free Wi-Fi and a three-course meal.
Lee Huffman
By Lee Huffman 
Edited by June Casagrande

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Virgin Atlantic offers some good benefits for international economy class travelers. Travelers choose from three levels of economy tickets: Light, Classic and Delight. This Virgin Atlantic economy review will help you decide if you should fly this airline when traveling internationally.

The difference between economy Light, Classic and Delight

Here's the short and sweet summary of Light versus Classic versus Delight, broken down by what's included:

  • Virgin Atlantic economy Light: Average seat pitch, seat assigned upon check in and the only included baggage is hand luggage.

  • Virgin Atlantic economy Classic: Average seat pitch, standard seats available for advance selection, hand luggage and checked bag included, and upgradeable with Virgin Points.

  • Virgin Atlantic economy Delight: Extra legroom by 3 inches, advanced seat assignment, priority boarding, hand luggage and checked bag included, upgradeable with Virgin Points, and premium check in.

What to expect flying economy with Virgin Atlantic

Here's the kind of service you can expect when you fly Virgin Atlantic economy to destinations around the world:

  • Food. Virgin Atlantic economy tickets, including Light, Classic and Delight, include a complimentary three-course meal, snacks and drinks.

  • Wi-Fi. Economy tickets also include onboard Wi-Fi.

  • Bag allowance. Passengers are allowed one carry-on up to 22 pounds. Economy light passengers may not check a bag, while economy Classic and economy Delight include one free bag.

  • Boarding. Economy passengers are some of the last to board the plane. Economy delight boards after premium ticket holders. Then, economy Classic and economy Light passengers are called by rows, starting from the back of the plane.

  • Seats. Economy seats are approximately 17 inches wide with pitch up to 31 inches. Delight seats feature extra legroom with up to 34 inches of pitch. The seats offer a small recline of up to 6 inches. Seats have power outlets.

  • Upgraded economy tickets. Economy Classic includes a choice of seat anytime and is upgradeable with points. Economy delight offers extra legroom, premium check-in and priority boarding.

Ways to get good value

1. Book with points

Booking a Virgin Atlantic economy ticket with points from its loyalty program, Flying Club, can save a considerable amount of money. Before you book, compare the cash price with the points price.

Round-trip economy flights from the U.K. start at 18,000 points. For example, a flight from New York to London in October 2021 costs 30,000 points plus $475.35.

The same flight would cost over $2,100 when paying with cash.

This is a great redemption because each point is worth 5.7 cents each, which is more than five times NerdWallet's baseline value of 1.8 cents per Virgin Atlantic point.

2. Book with points plus money

You may not have enough points to book your dream vacation. Virgin Atlantic economy tickets can be purchased using a combination of points and cash: Every 3,000 points you redeem will reduce the cost of your flight when you book online.

3. Earn elite status with the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard®

With the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard®, you can more quickly enjoy the perks of being an elite member of the Flying Club loyalty program. Spend $2,500 on the card and you'll receive 25 tier points, which apply toward elite status, with a cap of 50 tier points per month. By maxing out this perk, you'll achieve the Silver tier in eight months of spending.

4. Redeem points on partner airlines

Virgin Atlantic partners with many airlines around the world, including Delta, Air France and Singapore Airlines. These partnerships allow you to earn and redeem points for flights on these airlines. Sometimes, Virgin Atlantic points get you a better deal on a partner airline than you would pay using that airline’s own miles.

For example, Delta main cabin flights from Boston or New York to the U.K. start at just 15,000 Virgin Atlantic points each way. Delta rates can vary. We found mid-October flights costing from 58,000 to 70,000 SkyMiles for the same flight.

5. Pack light and save with economy Light

Virgin Atlantic economy Light tickets allow travelers to pay less when they can pack light. These reservations still include complimentary meals, drinks and snacks, but if you want to choose your seat before check-in or if you want to check a bag, economy Light passengers must pay a fee. Advanced seat assignment is about $42 each way and checked bags cost about $63 each way.

6. Upgrade your ticket with points

You can upgrade your round-trip flight starting at 17,400 points from the Northeast U.S. during standard season. One-way flight upgrades are half the price and peak season upgrades are higher.

There are three upgrade options, depending on which ticket you've purchased — economy to premium, premium to upper class and economy to upper class. Upgrading from economy to upper class costs the most in points.

7. Sit in the bubble on the upper deck

Virgin Atlantic’s Boeing 747 aircraft feature an upper deck, known as the bubble, which offers a more intimate atmosphere than the main economy cabin. Passengers who book an economy Light or economy Classic ticket on one of these planes are eligible to upgrade their Virgin Atlantic economy ticket for a fee. Virgin also flies Boeing 787 planes.

8. Book an exit row seat for extra space

Let's face it, flying in economy can be a little cramped. Get extra space during your journey by booking exit row seats for you and your companions. This upgrade is available starting at about $68 each way per person.

You can book this upgrade online in the My Booking section of the site, or you can contact Virgin Atlantic via Whatsapp, text or phone call. Upgrades are first come, first served, so it pays to book ahead of time. Also, if you wait until you arrive at the airport to upgrade, prices may vary at the ticket counter.

9. Get a companion ticket with the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard®

If you use the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard®, you can earn a companion ticket that lets you bring someone along on a flight for just the cost of the taxes and fees. To qualify for this annual benefit, spend at least $25,000 per year on the card. The companion offer is good for two years from the date of issue, so you'll have plenty of time to plan a trip.

Virgin Atlantic economy, recapped

There are many ways you can make the most of Virgin Atlantic economy flights when traveling internationally. Every passenger gets perks that other airlines charge for, including free Wi-Fi, complimentary three-course meals and free drinks and snacks. Points can be redeemed to book your flight or upgrade your ticket.

Plus, the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard® earns extra points on your purchases, provides the opportunity to earn a companion ticket and allows travelers to earn elite status credits.

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