Virgin Australia launched their new Economy X seating product on 21 May 2017. I’ve flown this new product a few times and think it’s a really great perk for Platinum frequent flyers who can select these seats for free.
For regular passengers, Economy X starts from an extra $29 on top of your Economy ticket. You’ll get priority boarding in addition to an extra legroom seat in the first 3 rows of Economy. This guarantees a quick exit from the aircraft upon arrival.
As a tall Velocity Platinum Frequent Flyer, I often attempt to select seats in row 3 to alleviate the problem of sore knees on flights greater than an hour. With Virgin’s introduction of Economy X, there are now 12 seats on each of their 737-800 aircraft that have extra leg room seating without being stuck in emergency exit rows in the middle of the aircraft (rows 3-5). Since rows 4 and 5 are just regular rows, there are no requirements to store your baggage overhead.
Air New Zealand, along with many US carriers, have been offering extra legroom seats to their high tier frequent flyers for many years, and I think it’s a great thing. Currently, in Australia, your status yields the most tangible benefits at the airport before you board, and generally once you’re onboard you get the same seat as every other passenger. Virgin Australia’s Platinum tier is often criticised for not offering many extra benefits above Gold. Giving Platinum tier frequent flyers extra legroom is a really great onboard offering and something we haven’t seen lately in the domestic market.
The only potential downside to this new product is the chance that middle seats that otherwise might have gone empty may now be filled up by regular passengers paying the money to upgrade to Economy X.
I’d really like to see Qantas embrace this concept and start offering a similar product. It would be especially beneficial on long haul routes.