When flying on Virgin Atlantic or Virgin, is it worth paying to upgrade to Premium Economy from Economy seats on long-haul flights?
1. Economy Vs Premium Economy: Price
If the price is your biggest factor when making the decision on which class to fly in, you should probably choose to fly Economy. After all, the entire plane will get to its destination, whichever class you are sitting in.
Having said that, particularly for overnight flights, being stuffed in a sardine-tin, with little space to move and next-to-no recline, means that sleep is difficult. Certainly, when I have flown in Economy, if I do manage to nod off, the fact that my head then drops to one side because of the lack of seat recline, means that I almost always wake myself up.
The result is that you can feel pretty grotty after an Economy flight when you get to your destination. This means that you are potentially ruining the first day of your trip, because you have not spent the extra on upgrading your flight.
So even if the price IS your biggest factor, Premium Economy can mean that you avoid wasting a day of your holiday which may ultimately be worth more than the price difference.
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2. Economy Vs Premium Economy: Seat Selection
Virgin enables you to select your Premium Economy seat for free. A feature that British Airways reserves for its Gold and Silver tier members only. This is a valuable feature of Premium Economy and means you can sit where you want in the cabin (within reason), which is a valuable feature if you want to sit with your family or partner.
3. Economy Vs Premium Economy: Check-in
Virgin offers a special Premium Economy check-in desk. (On BA you have to check-in with coach passengers, so this is a great perk that not all airlines offer).
4. Economy Vs Premium Economy: Baggage
You get 2 hold suitcases when travelling in Premium Economy which is a big bonus.
5. Economy Vs Premium Economy: Lounges
When flying in Premium Economy you do not get access to any Virgin Atlantic lounges but if you are flying out of London Heathrow, you can use your Priority Pass or pay to access to the Aspire Lounge In Heathrow Terminal 5 or the Aspire Lounge in Terminal 3. There is no advantage to flying Premium Economy in this respect.
6. Economy Vs Premium Economy: Boarding
Virgin also offers priority boarding all over the world for Premium Economy passengers, by comparison, BA only offers priority boarding out of Heathrow.
7. Economy Vs Premium Economy: Seat Dimensions
Virgin’s Premium Economy seat dimensions are 18-21 inches seat width, 38 inches leg room, while Virgin’s Economy offers a “generous” width of up to 17 inches, with seat pitch or legroom of up to 31 inches. So purely on seat dimensions, Virgin’s Premium Economy gives you much more room, but a halfway house is Virgin’s Delight class, and if you are a large person, this is worth considering. When comparing Virgin Vs British Airways Vs Norwegian, the seat pitch is particularly average in Virgin’s Premium Economy.
For me, the extra elbow room in the Premium Economy seats enables me to work more comfortably on my laptop, making the width worth paying for and making Virgin Premium Economy a better choice than BA’s Premium Economy when flying out of Heathrow or Gatwick.
8. Economy Vs Premium Economy: Seat Recline
While Virgin’s Premium Economy seat seats have 7-8 inches of recline vs Virgin’s Economy and Economy Delight recline of 4-6 inches, it is much harder to work out the seat recline on British Airways without getting out your tape measure onboard.
The Premium Economy seats recline more than the Economy seats So for on seat recline, Virgin’s Premium Economy gives you more room to recline your seat which will make it easier to sleep as your head is less likely to drop to one side when the seat is more horizontal.
9. Economy Vs Premium Economy: Food
You get free drinks and free food in Virgin’s Premium Economy. The menu offering is enhanced, the food is decent, but nothing spectacular and is served on china with stainless steel cutlery. You also usually get a welcome drink and another round of drinks with the meal, along with tea and coffee during/after the meal. There is also a snack bar on the new 787 aircraft with free snacks and drinks that you can help yourself to.
The Virgin Atlantic Economy food is of a much lower calibre and is not noteworthy so Premium Economy definitely provides a much nicer dining experience.
Depending on the length of the flight, if it is overnight, you sometimes get breakfast served in Premium Economy, although I believe that this is the same as in Economy. On shorter flights, you just get a drink and a Mars Bar on Virgin (or similar).
I would say that the Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy is a good product and worth paying the extra if you can afford it. I have flown in Premium Economy and would not hesitate to fly it again.
Below you will find my most recent flight reviews on Virgin Atlantic in Premium Economy:
In this trip report, I review Premium Economy on Virgin Atlantic, on their new Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner on my flight from London Heathrow to Newark in New York. This flight flew out of London Heathrow Terminal Terminal 3. You can… Read More.
Which is the best Premium Economy Transatlantic Airline? British Airways or Virgin Atlantic? Interestingly there is a third airline worth considering. Norwegian Airlines has also started to dominate on this route with new planes and an excellent Premium Economy offering… Read More.
You can also read my listing of the world’s top 10 Premium Economy Airlines.