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Virgin Atlantic to introduce fees for ‘preferred’ premium economy seating

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Virgin is further rolling out ‘preferred’ seating charges in the Premium cabin, following its introduction in economy last year.

The bottom line, however, is that you don’t need to pay for a seat if you don’t want to.

Virgin Atlantic A330neo Premium

How does Virgin Atlantic Premium seating work at present?

At present, you can choose your seat for free from when you make your booking when flying Virgin Atlantic Premium.

You can select from the whole cabin – minus seats taken by other passengers and the bulkhead row, which is normally reserved for passengers with babies due to the location of bassinet attachments.

This is changing from 23rd August. From this date, and for bookings from 25th August, a small proportion of the Premium cabin will be reserved for anyone willing to pay a fee to select these seats.

Virgin tells us that Preferred Premium seats will account for around 30% of the Premium cabin, depending on the aircraft type.

It is important to note that the remaining seats in the cabin will still be free of charge to select. The only difference is that the free selection is being reduced.

To justify the change, Virgin said:

“The extension of preferred seating to Premium customers provides more choice and control so they can select a location that suits their individual preference in our award-winning cabin. That could be to secure seats near the front of the cabin, a duo seat for couples, or simply the peace of mind that they’ll be sat close to their travelling party to sit back, unwind and enjoy the Premium experience together.”

Where are the Preferred Premium seats?

The seats which will carry a charge are situated in the front of the cabin. Here are the seats affected, in red, on each of Virgin’s aircraft types. Click any image to enlarge.

Preferred Premium seats on Virgin’s A330s

Virgin A330 Preferred Premium

There are 13 Preferred Premium seats on Virgin’s A330-300 aircraft. This includes seats 19A-C, 20A-C, 20H-K and all of row 21.

Preferred Premium seats on Virgin’s Boeing 787-9s

Virgin 787-9 Preferred Premium

On the 787-9 there are 11 Preferred Premiums seats. These are all of row 22 and 23A-C and 23H-K.

Preferred Premium on Virgin’s A350s

Virgin A350 Preferred Premium

As Virgin Atlantic’s largest aircraft type, there are 16 Preferred Premium seats on the A350-1000s. These are all seats in rows 22 and 23.

Preferred Premium on Virgin’s A330neos

Virgin A330neo Preferred Premium

Although Virgin’s newest aircraft has yet to fly (it’s coming in October), the A330-900neo fleet will feature 11 Preferred Premium seats. This includes seats 22A-C and 22H-K as well as the entirety of row 23.

You may be wondering why Preferred Premium seating does not include the front row in the Premium cabin. This is due to bulkhead rows often featuring bassinet seats reserved for families.

What will ‘preferred’ seating cost?

Premium customers will pay £55 per segment for a Preferred seat. All other seats are free.

When does this change happen?

The new seating structure will apply to all Premium customers. Seats will be bookable from 23rd August, for flights from 25th August onwards.

What about existing bookings?

If you are travelling in Premium from 23rd August you should receive an email this week, letting you select a Preferred seat free of charge.

Importantly, if you are holding a Premium ticket for travel after 25th August, you should book your free seat NOW. After 22nd August, the range of seats that is available for free will be reduced.

Are there any benefits for Virgin Flying Club elite members?


Flying Club Gold and Delta Diamond and Platinum members will be entitled to a Preferred seat for free.

Corporate flyers and those travelling in Premium on a UNIQ booking (that’s the invite-only tier above Virgin Gold ….) are also exempt from the charges.

Virgin Atlantic Premium seat


Whilst the introduction of chargeable Preferred Premium seats reduces the choice of free seat selection, it does at least still compare favourably to other airlines, such as BA, where all seat selection comes at a cost.

The good news is that, as just 30% of seats listed as Preferred you still have free choice from the remaining 70%. And as the Premium cabin tends to be fairly small it’s not a huge loss to be sitting three rows in, rather than in the first couple – there are really no bad seats in the Premium cabin.

You can read our recent review of Virgin Atlantic’s Premium economy on the A350 here.

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (May 2024)

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 18,000 Virgin Points and the free card has a bonus of 3,000 Virgin Points):

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

18,000 bonus points and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

3,000 bonus points, no fee and 1 point for every £1 you spend 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

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

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 40,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 40,000 Virgin Points.

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable 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.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit 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.)

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