As Competition Spikes, Virgin Atlantic Carves Out New Economy Fares

Virgin Atlantic has responded to increased competition from low-cost carriers Norwegian and WestJet on its transatlantic routes. This spring, the carrier will introduce three economy class options: delight, classic and light. The categories add to the carrier's premium economy offering, which Virgin Atlantic will call simply premium.

Classic and light will maintain current seat pitch at 31 inches, while delight will offer a 34-inch seat pitch. Virgin Atlantic's premium has a seat pitch of 38 inches. Delight and classic will offer one piece of free checked luggage and will maintain free seat selection. Light will enforce assigned seating and will charge separately for a checked bag at a hefty 45 British pounds, which will make classic the better choice for passengers who need to check a bag. Passengers choosing the economy light option will have assigned seating.

Each economy seat will now have a USB charger. Virgin Atlantic will continue to provide all economy classes with meals, snacks, drinks, inflight entertainment, blankets, pillows and headphones and to allow carry-ons. Priority check-in and boarding will be available only through premium.

Economical Economy Trends
While regional low-cost carriers like Ryanair have made cut-rate fares and a la carte pricing for meals, seat selection and checked baggage things to be expected, Virgin Atlantic's transatlantic routes were somewhat insulated from the fray. With Norwegian and WestJet now gunning for transatlantic market share, however, Virgin Atlantic is following the playbook of legacy carriers like Delta, United Airlines and American Airlines, all of which have introduced basic economy fares. Virgin Atlantic's strategy includes a characteristic twist in that the carrier still will offer meal service in all its economy classes and has carved out an upgraded economy category with increased seat pitch.
Business Travel News 3/7/2018