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Why the bonus points with Virgin’s Economy Delight fares makes the upgrade good value

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If you try to book an economy flight with Virgin Atlantic, you will see that there are three levels of pricing, each with 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 Economy Delight package with premium benefits including more legroom.

What I’m going to show in this article is that the additional Virgin Points you earn from Economy Delight are – on their own – pretty much worth the additional cost.  This makes it a no-brainer to book these tickets and effectively get all of the other benefits for free.

Is Virgin Atlantic economy delight worth it?

What are Virgin Atlantic’s economy seat options?

Your options are:

Economy Light: 31″ legroom, Hand Baggage Only fare with seats assigned at check-in, cannot be upgraded to Upper Class or Premium Economy with Virgin Points

Economy Classic: 31″ legroom, equivalent to 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 Virgin Points

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 Virgin Points

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 gives you different levels of Virgin Points 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. Here’s an example for a return flight to New York:

Virgin's Economy Delight fares makes the upgrade good value
Virgin's Economy Delight fares makes the upgrade good value
Virgin's Economy Delight fares makes the upgrade good value

As you can, the mileage gap is substantial – and this is only for the short hop to New York. We look at the numbers for San Francisco below.

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 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. This is for a return trip.

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 £100 return to check in a suitcase, only a total idiot would book Economy Light if they had luggage.  You are not saving anything (the flight costs £100 more but you will pay £100 at check-in for your suitcase) and you are missing out on free selection and a big pile of additional Virgin Points.

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 £40 each way (£80 return) on an Economy Light ticket although you will get a ‘preferred’ seat for this.

What does seating cost?

Virgin Atlantic restructured its seat pricing policy last year. This is how it now works:

  • Economy Light tickets get a seat allocated at check-in, but passengers may also book a ‘preferred’ seat for cash in advance if they wish. This will cost £40 each way.
  • Economy Classic tickets can still select a seat for free at the time of booking, but passengers will need to pay £30 each way if they want to book into the 25%-33% of the economy cabin which is designated as ‘preferred’ seating
  • Economy Delight tickets continue to let you select a seat from the block with additional leg room

‘Preferred’ seats are defined as:

  • Seats near the front of the cabin
  • Exit row seats
  • Duo seats (two seats with no middle seat)

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 Virgin Points and you have a ticket type that cannot be upgraded.  Economy Classic CAN be upgraded with points 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 Points received.  I am assuming that you are savvy enough to get at least 1p of value per Virgin Point.  This isn’t difficult as long as you are redeeming for Premium or Upper / Business class flights.

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

This means you would earn roughly:

  • 2,600 Virgin Points for an Economy Light return
  • 5,200 Virgin Points for an Economy Classic return (+ 2,600, so £26-worth)
  • 15,600 Virgin Points 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 entirely offset by the additional Virgin Points you earn if you think you can redeem for 1p per point.

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 £80 return)
  • a free suitcase (otherwise £100 return)
  • the ability to upgrade with points to Upper Class or Premium if available

Even if you are not a long-term collector of Virgin Points, remember that there are now loads of small redemptions in the Virgin Red app which will get you around 0.5p per point.

Fly to San Francisco in Economy Delight and you would earn roughly 15,600 points which would get you £78 of Virgin Red goodies.  Economy Light would only earn 2,600 points (£13 of Virgin Red goodies) whilst Economy Classic would only earn 5,200 points (£26 of Virgin Red goodies).  The points offset two thirds of the cost of the upgrade from Economy Classic to Economy Delight – and this assumes you redeem for the worst possible Virgin Points redemptions, ie bits and pieces from the Virgin Red app.

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 Point, the Economy Delight upgrade is effectively free in most cases due to the extra points 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 but the flying time is shorter and the bonus Virgin Points are fewer.

I would still be giving Economy Delight consideration though, because £100 return for the additional legroom plus some extra points 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 Points 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.


How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (August 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 Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

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

Virgin Rewards credit card

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 Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

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.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

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

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

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 (32)

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

  • TimM says:

    The main issue with the article is the difficulty in obtaining that 1p/point value from Virgin Points. We have discovered it is very easy to collect Virgin Points but, apart from living off Gregg’s sausage rolls, if you are unfortunate enough to have an outlet near you, it is not so easy to redeem them.

  • NorthernLass says:

    Slightly off topic – I have 54k Virgin points plus a 241/upgrade voucher and am hoping to book ATL-MAN for next June (availability depending, of course). As far as I can work out, I need to call Virgin and I should be able to book 2 seats in PE for 22,500 points plus the voucher (plus surcharges)? Is it only UC redemptions that need an extra 50% points for Red status pax?

    • AL says:

      I am fairly sure that this is correct – the bit throwing me is the Red 50% policy. But there aren’t any queues for customer service any more, so give them a call and ask.

      • NorthernLass says:

        Thanks – hoping that availability will appear next time they load the system! As I understand it, if you’re only Red, you need to pay 50% of the required points for UC, making it 2 for 1.5 rather than 2 for 1. But I think for an overnight flight we’ll manage in PE, or even Y at a push!

        • Dave P says:

          You will be waiting a while, very very few reward seats available!

    • yorkieflyer says:

      yes, I’m red too and have booked both a 241 and an upgrade before. for the 241 return its 50% extra points for Upper. For an upgrade for two pax one way to upper then no surcharge, so you could use 2 vouchers, one each way.
      All depends on availability which is very tight, in reality only ever seem to pop up on new routes or midweek

  • Jane says:

    I looked at booking exit row seats in Economy Classic from TAB to CPT and they are priced at TTD671 each leg which at today’s exchange is £81.46 not the £30 mentioned in your article. The booking is for a 6’3″ person so a 34″ seat pitch isn’t really comfortable.and there do not appear to be exit seats in Economy Comfort.

    • Rob says:

      If you’re flying Caribbean to London to South Africa then clearly that it two flights and you’d expect to pay double (plus local currency adjustment).

      If you want an exit row then book Economy Classic and pay the £30 (per leg) assuming any remain. Economy Delight does not include exit rows – this is sensible given that certain people are blocked from exit rows.

      • Jane says:

        No, it’s £81 per leg for the exit seat!!! So for 4 legs it’s £320!!!

  • Froggee says:

    I asked my wife how much she’d be willing to pay for an extra three inches and she glared at me and walked out of the room,

    • Chas says:

      😂 – comment of the day (it’s early still, but I doubt it will be beaten)!

  • Graeme says:

    Still don’t understand why you earn more miles in ED than Premium. I’ll book the premium cabin all day long even with earning less miles.

    • WaynedP says:

      +1 !

      Almost makes you think VS have made an inadvertent mistake in their assessment here because I can’t be the only one who slightly begrudges the lost 50% extra miles when paying more for the better overall PE experience.

  • Richie says:

    Economy Delight Wider is a missed opportunity.

    • modestpointscollector says:

      That’s PE which is the opportunity Virgin picked up on in the 90s?

  • PJJ says:

    Presume it helps boosting points with Virgins Points Booster

  • John says:

    I credit VS flights to Delta which has the much superior FF program in my opinion.

    VS Light and Delight earn the same. I book Light and receive complimentary Delight seats by virtue of DL FF status.

    • Philondon says:

      Delta charge more points but a lot less tax than Virgin, I found recently.

      • John says:

        Yeah, that’s a totally fair point. If you are mainly into premium-cabin awards across the pond, Delta is not the program for you.

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