Why the bonus miles with Virgin’s Economy Delight fares makes them good value

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18 months ago, Virgin Atlantic relaunched its economy pricing structure.

There are now three levels of pricing, offering different benefits.  At the bottom end you have no checked baggage and will be allocated a seat at check-in, with no guarantee that couples will be sat together.  At the top end, you have the new Economy Delight package with premium benefits including more legroom.

What I’m going to show in this article is that the additional frequent flyer miles you earn from Economy Delight are – on their own – pretty much worth the additional cost.  This makes is a no-brainer to book these tickets.  Not many people have worked this out, however!

What are Virgin Atlantic’s economy seat options?

Your options are:

Economy Light: Hand Baggage Only fare with seats assigned at check-in, cannot be upgraded to Upper Class or Premium Economy with miles

Economy Classic: The old Economy fare with the ability to pre-select seats and with checked luggage included, can be upgraded to Upper Class or Premium Economy with miles

Economy Delight: Extra legroom (34″ pitch), free seat selection at any time, priority check-in and priority boarding, can be upgraded to Upper Class or Premium Economy with miles

Full details are on the Virgin Atlantic website here.

Here is a slightly OTT picture of an Economy Delight seat:

Virgin Atlantic Economy Delight explained
We did a review of a Virgin Atlantic Economy Delight flight to New York here.

But there’s more …..

Virgin Atlantic awards different levels of Virgin Flying Club miles for each ticket class.

This makes a HUGE difference to the value proposition, especially for Economy Delight.

Economy Light:  earns 25% of miles flown plus 25 tier points each-way

Economy Classic:  earns 50% of miles flown plus 25 tier points each-way (the Virgin website says ‘50% to 150% of miles flown’ and ’25 to 50′ tier points each way but the cheaper non-flexible tickets will only offer 50% miles bonus and 25 tier points)

Economy Delight:  earns 150% of miles flown plus 50 tier points each-way

These numbers show during the booking process when you select an Economy seat and are asked to pick between Light, Classic and Delight.

This page of the Virgin Atlantic website explains their tier point system.  You need 400 tier points in a rolling 12-month period for Silver and 1,000 tier points for Gold.

How does pricing move around between ticket types?

There is obviously no fixed answer.  It varies by route and over time.

However, as a rough rule of thumb, Economy Classic costs £100 on top of Economy Light, and Economy Delight costs another £100 on top of Economy Classic.

Looking at a wide range of dates for various North America routes, I never saw the gap between Economy Delight and Economy Classic drop below £70 return.  The most extreme gap was £180 return.

For the sake of this article I am sticking with a £100 gap between each level,

Should you pick Economy Light or Classic?

I’m not going to spend much time looking at the price difference between Economy Light and Economy Classic.

The price gap, as I said above, tends to be £100 return.

As it will cost you £90 return to check in a suitcase, only a total idiot would book Economy Light if they had luggage.  You are ‘saving’ £10 but missing out on free selection and a big pile of additional Virgin Flying Club miles.

(Virgin’s pricing for additional baggage over your allowance can be found here.)

If you’re not taking a suitcase, the key thing to know is that seat selection before check-in costs £30 each way (£60 return) on an Economy Light ticket.  If you are on a Boeing 747, Upper Deck seating costs £35 each way (£70 return).

(Virgin’s pricing for seat selection can be found here.)

You will also earn an extra 0.25 Flying Club miles per mile flown.  On longer routes such as San Francisco, this would mean an additional 2,600 miles which should be worth £26 if used well.

If you’re happy to take your chances with whatever seats are left at check-in then Economy Light may work for you.  However, remember that you are missing out on additional Flying Club miles and you have a ticket type that cannot be upgraded.  Economy Classic CAN be upgraded with miles to either Premium or Upper Class.

What is Virgin Atlantic Economy Delight

Why Virgin’s Economy Delight is the real sweet spot

I have been digging into routes and prices.  My view is that it is often a no-brainer to book Economy Delight, especially on longer routes.

A lot of people who don’t read HFP won’t work this out, but let me explain my thinking.

In general Economy Delight is priced at £100 return above Economy Classic and £200 return above Economy Light.

Let’s look at the Virgin Flying Club miles received.  I am assuming that you are savvy enough to get at least 1p of value per Virgin Flying Club mile.  This isn’t difficult as long as you are redeeming for Premium or Upper / Business.

Here’s an example.  San Francisco is 10,734 miles return.

This means you would earn roughly:

2,600 Virgin Flying Club miles for an Economy Light return

5,200 Virgin Flying Club miles for an Economy Classic return (+ 2,600, so £26-worth)

15,600 Virgin Flying Club miles for an Economy Delight return (+ 13,000, so £130-worth)

To be clear, on a 12-hour Virgin Atlantic flight to San Francisco the additional cost of Economy Delight over Economy Classic is often entirely offset by the additional Virgin Flying Club miles you earn.

This assigns no value to:

  • the extra 3 inches of leg-room
  • priority check-in
  • priority boarding
  • the extra tier points

Compared to Economy Light, you are also getting:

  • free seat selection (otherwise £60 return)
  • a free suitcase (otherwise £90 return)
  • the ability to upgrade with miles to Upper Class or Premium if available

Even if you are not a long-term collector of Virgin Flying Club miles, remember that 12,500 miles is enough for a £50 Virgin Group gift voucher.

Fly to San Francisco in Economy Delight and you would earn roughly 15,600 miles which would get you a £50 voucher.  Economy Light would only earn 2,600 miles whilst Economy Classic would only earn 5,200 miles.  The £50 value of the voucher offsets half of the cost of the upgrade from Economy Classic.  And this assumes you redeem for the worst possible Virgin Flying Club redemption, ie the gift voucher!

Even if you have zero interest in earning 150% base miles from Economy Delight, I still think it makes sense.  On the longer routes, you are paying £100 extra return over Economy Classic to get an extra chunk of leg-room for 24 hours of flying time.  That is £4 per hour.  If you don’t value your well-being at an extra £4 per hour ….

If you believe you can get 1p per Virgin Flying Club mile, the Economy Delight upgrade is free in most cases due to the extra miles you earn.

Conclusion

All of the maths above is based around the longer Virgin Atlantic routes.

The benefit of Economy Delight is less clear cut on a shorter flight such as New York, because the extra cost is still roughly £100 return over Economy Classic (although I saw it as low as £70 return) but the flying time is shorter and the bonus Flying Club miles are fewer.

I would still be giving Economy Delight consideration though, because £100 return for the additional legroom plus some extra miles plus priority boarding etc is never going to be a bad deal.

On the longer Virgin Atlantic routes, I see no real justification – if you can get full value from the extra Virgin Flying Club miles these tickets earn – for not paying the extra for Economy Delight over Economy Classic.

You can read about the different Economy Classes on the Virgin Atlantic website here.

Is Virgin Atlantic economy delight worth it?

How to earn Virgin Atlantic miles from UK credit cards

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

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Flying Club miles.

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Comments

  1. Jonathan says:

    Who knows how Delta’s Economy Delight equivalent package compares to Virgin’s?

    It’s hard to find a direct comparison between the two, and I’m also fully aware that theirs isn’t available across its network given the scale of their domestic routes alone

    • I did a write up of BOS-LHR in Delta Comfort+ with a comparison Vs. Virgin Economy Delight on V-Flyer. If I am allowed to link it I will – Rob are posting external links here okay?

    • I’ve travelled Deta Comfort+ twice, having been upgraded at check-in after volunteering to be bumped, from a Delta Basic Economy fare. No extra points.

      The legroom is the usual 7-8cm better, but probably more importantly, on both those occasions, the crew were ruthless in ensuring that only Comfort+ passengers use the bins above the Comfort+ seats.

      Having spent just £340 on the fares, you can just imagine the disappointment at being given a $500 Visa Gift Card, an extra night in Boston and upgraded seat (twice)…

  2. “ However, as a rough rule of thumb, Economy Light costs £100 on top of Economy Classic, and Economy Delight costs another £100 on top of Economy Light.”

    Should read

    However, as a rough rule of thumb, Economy Classic costs £100 on top of Economy Light, and Economy Delight costs another £100 on top of Economy Classic?

  3. The problem with Virgin miles is that you really need to have a plan for them, they’re not like avios where you can quickly use small amounts on short haul. To get 1p+ of value per mile, you need 50k+ miles. After around 4 years of collecting them, I cashed out 90k for ANA business and I’m not that interested in building up a balance again.

    Of course, the KLM Air France redemptions could change this.

    • Necker?!

    • This is why I’ve never bothered with Virgin miles. I’d need enough for at least a one-way for 2 in Upper Class which I am never going to accumulate without focusing on that goal to the exclusion of other programs for a year or more.

      In that time I can manage a BA 2-4-1 long haul in J or F and enough hotel points for at least 5-for-4 in high end hotel with Hilton or Marriott. I know which makes more sense to me.

      • Shoestring says:

        @Stu N – I get that but obvs a few of us are hoping that redeeming Virgin miles on AF/ KLM becomes attractive in future (currently they are Earn partners but not Spend partners https://www.virginatlantic.com/gb/en/flying-club/partners/airlines.html ).

        Maybe it will never be particularly cheap within Europe, as (say) from a regional airport/ or London, you need to go through a hub (Paris/ Amsterdam) to get to your European destination, = 2 flights. Forget the connection hassle, but the cost will invariably be high compared to a single point to point flight. Convenience could outweigh that at times.

        However, AF/ KLM run some crazy good value promotions monthly, eg up to 50% off miles needed for interesting destinations. Even if Virgin doesn’t come up with some great ideas of its own (RFS mark 2 would be good!) – we’ll be able to use Virgin miles for those AF/ KLM crazies.

        • Living in Newcastle, I often have to connect via Amsterdam or Heathrow anyway.

          You reckon those Flying Blue sales will apply to Virgin FC redemptions too? That would be interesting, as you say.

    • One way redemptions from HKG are a great sweet spot, taxes are around £35 and only need 12.5 eco / 22.5 pe / 57.5k upper

  4. Another permutation (possibly?), if you really weren’t bothered about the legroom, seat selection and baggage etc but did want to top up your miles, might be to fly Economy Light but then use the money you ‘save’ to buy 1x, 2x, or 3x miles flown via Miles Booster. Assuming they can be had for 1p each? (I can’t remember whether that’s the normal price or sale price, but I know I’ve quite often bought them for that, possibly occasionally with bonus on top, IIRC).

    Of course, you could also fly Economy Delight *and* avail of Miles Booster. Although possibly you’re then moving towards Premium Economy pricing? 😉

    • I think that’s the normal price. I’ve twice bought miles using the Miles Booster, when the equivalent price has ended up being 0.77p per mile.

  5. On the downside, if you’re looking to upgrade from VS economy you’ll do some of your dough if you’ve paid for delight not classic.
    Also, seat selection choice is different. Some classic seats >> than delight.
    Often I find difference delight to Premium is worth looking at too.
    Lots of variables for sure.

    • If it’s a reward upgrade you still benefit from shelling out for Delight: you earn the miles & TP of whichever Economy you paid for

  6. For the next few days, people with Corporate Perks, might find the net differential is just £88 between each layer as part of the BF offering.

    So that makes:-

    £90 Luggage, £60 Check In & £130 worth of points

    For just £176 more.

  7. “£100 return for the additional legroom plus some extra miles plus premium security is never going to be a bad deal”

    Economy Delight doesn’t include premium security

  8. Hi everyone.
    Does anyone know if a Virgin Economy redemption using companion voucher can be upgraded to Economy Delight?

    • That’s quite niche, try Flyertalk.
      My instinct says no, I have tried upgrading PE to UC having already upgraded from E to PE using the voucher. They had to remove the voucher and I was charged the full miles to upgrade from E to UC.
      Are you even allowed to book into the lowest economy buckets with the companion voucher?

    • I don’t believe you can currently get into Delight via reward bookings; it is a bit of a hole in their scheme given people would presumably be prepared to cough up a modest fee/miles to sit in Delight, rather than Classic.
      Although, as I’ve suggested here before there are situations I’d prefer Classic over Delight (plane and flight timing dependent).
      There are occasions where Premium is simply not available or otherwise not “worth it”.

      • I booked London to Sao Paolo with Virgin next year on their Boeing 787-9. While selecting the seats, i could pay extra for Emergency exit seats, but Economy Delight is unavailable.
        Where would you say Classic is better than Delight?

        • Possibly on a flight with low loads so that in classic you might get a whole row to yourself to stretch out/sleep.

        • If I remember correctly, on some planes the exit rows are allocated to Classic so the only way of booking the exit row (for extra cash of course) is booking Classic or Light. This is presumably more legroom than Delight.

  9. ankomonkey says:

    I’m still waiting for Sinead’s article on VS FC – tips, tricks, cheats…

  10. Anyone else managed to book Virgin Delight for ma UK region to include Flybe connections? getting told it doesn’t work/tickets aren’t eligible when any other airline is involved in the itinerary.

  11. “Economy Light costs £100 on top of Economy Classic” – £100 less surely?

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