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Virgin Atlantic to charge for economy seat reservations

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Virgin Atlantic has quietly slipped out details of its plans to charge for seating in economy.  The following has appeared on the Virgin Atlantic website:

Changes to the way you choose your seats in advance

Between 18 December 2013 and 30 January 2014 you will only be able to assign seats for flights departing on or before 01 March 2104.  For most flights between 01 February 2014 until 31 May 2014 seats will be available to select 30 days before departure and from 01 June seats will be available from time of booking.  Seats can be assigned through Manage Flights which is available up to 24 hours before departure. 

Virgin Atlantic 747

• From 01 April 2014, customers flying between London Gatwick and Las Vegas will be able to pay to choose seats up to 336 days in advance. If you’re travelling to or from Tokyo you’ll also be able to choose seats 336 days in advance, free of charge.

• From 01 April 2014 exit row and extra legroom seats will be available to choose and buy from the online seat map up to 336 days in advance, on all routes.

• From 01 May 2014 customers flying to our Africa, Asia, Caribbean and Australian destinations will be able to pay to choose seats up to 336 days in advance.

• From 01 June 2014 customers flying on all routes will be able to pay to choose their seats up to 336 days in advance.

Please note: If you already have a seat selected for a flight that departs either before or after 01 April 2014 you will be able to keep it.

How much will advanced seat assignment cost?

The cost to assign a seat will be from £25 per person per flight (£50 per round trip) on Virgin Atlantic long haul flights.  This is with the exception of our Tokyo route which will remain free of charge.  There is no charge on Virgin Atlantic Little Red UK domestic flights.

Please note: For now you won’t be able to pay to choose your seat using Miles or Miles plus money, but we hope to be able to offer you this soon.

This announcement is not going to win any prizes for brevity or simplicity.  The bottom line is that, apart from Tokyo, by June 1st you will need to pay £50 per person, return, to select seats on Virgin Atlantic. 

Exit row and extra legroom rows will cost extra.  At present, the charge for these is a whopping £40-£115 per person, each way, for an exit row and £20-£50 per person, each way, for rows with some additional legroom.  I assume that the £25 seat booking fee will be added onto this from 2014.

No prices are listed for Premium Economy or Upper Class, so it remains to be seen if charges will appear there.  It is also not clear if Virgin Flying Club Gold and/or Silver members will be exempt.


How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (October 2022)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

You can choose from two official Virgin Atlantic credit cards (apply here, the Reward+ card has a bonus of 15,000 Virgin Points):

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

A generous earning rate for a free card at 0.75 points per £1 Read our full review

You can also earn Virgin Points from various American Express cards – and these have sign-up bonuses too.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for a year and comes with 20,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 20,000 Virgin Points.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 30,000 Virgin Points.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

The Platinum Card from American Express

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Small business owners should consider the two American Express Business cards. Points convert at 1:1 into Virgin Points.

American Express Business Platinum

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American Express Business Gold

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Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Points

(Want to earn more Virgin Points?  Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

Comments (8)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Paul says:

    Was going to post the same. See https://www.virgin-atlantic.com/gb/en/manage-your-flights/seat-assignment.html as well (though Virgin certainly does seem to have rather overcomplicated this message).

  • courtster says:

    Saw this yesterday while checking a friends seat reservation to out wedding at BGI in a few weeks.

    I’m amazed it’s took this long, bucket and spade routes must be prime for such an optional charge.

  • Billy says:

    Currently no charges for:

    Premium Economy
    Upper Class
    Little Red
    Flying Club Gold Members

  • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    That’s pretty harsh for FC silvers.

  • jhk says:

    again no service. the good old days with flying i miss them but when i read this direct never Virgin for our company.

  • Rob says:

    Thanks, didn’t see that yesterday

  • New Trial - Automatic Check-In for certain routes - Page 6 - FlyerTalk Forums says:

    […] or the accountants at Virgin rubbing their hands with glee and chanting "FREE MONEY!": https://headforpoints.com/2013/12…-reservations/ Anybody else got any first hand experiences recently? I'm off to VIE this week but apparently on […]

  • Chris C says:

    This is not going down well.

    There are lots of complaints on the VS Facebook page.

    A few are saying they will never fly VS again and will move to BA (who of course also charge for booking a seat)

    One of the justifications appears to be ‘to bring us into line with other airlines’ how this ties in with the ‘Flying in the face of ordinary’ advertising campaign I don’t know. But yet another example of VS dysfunction between departments.

    Crag Kreeger was on BBC Breakfast this morning. I was not inspired!

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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