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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
• 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.

(Want to earn more Virgin Flying Club miles? Click here to see recent articles on Virgin Atlantic, Little Red and Flying Club, and click here for the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

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