Virgin Australia has launched a new Economy X product that replaces its previous Space+ offering and gives passengers what group executive for airlines John Thomas describes as “speed on the ground and space in the air”.
Economy X, which offers extra legroom seats that come with extra perks such as priority boarding, priority screening and dedicated overhead locker space, is being progressively rolled out across Virgin Australia’s domestic and international fleet.
Thomas said more than half of Virgin’s 75 737-800s have been reconfigured with the new Economy X branded seats, which feature a red stripe on the headrest with “Economy X” in white lettering.
The majority of the fleet was expected to be fitted with Economy X by the end of May.
On the Boeing narrowbody, the seats are pitched at 34 inches compared with 30 inches on Virgin’s standard economy seats.
The seats will be available free of charge for platinum members of Virgin’s Velocity frequent flyer program on domestic and short-haul international services.
For everyone else, the seats will be available as an add-on to their purchased fare, starting at $29 for a Sydney-Melbourne flight and rising to $149 for a long-haul Sydney-Los Angeles flight.
The pricing represents an increase from prices of $10-$50 for Virgin’s previous Economy Space+ product. There will also be an increase in the number of seats available as Economy X compared with Economy Space+, which mainly featured the exit rows in the cabin.
Thomas said Economy X was about giving passengers more ways to choose how they wanted to fly.
“What we found was they want speed on the ground and space in the air and that is basically what we give you with Economy X,” Thomas told journalists in Sydney on Thursday.
“We believe that it will revolutionise the domestic travel experience and give our customers that level of choice that’s never been seen in the Australian marketplace in the past.”
Figures from Virgin showed about 20 per cent of economy seats on its 737-800s, 737-700s and 777-300ERs have been rebranded to Economy X, while the percentage was in the single digits for the rest of the fleet. (See table below.)
On Virgin’s long-haul flights, those seated in Economy X will also receive a guaranteed first meal choice and noise cancelling headphones in addition to priority checkin and priority boarding.
Thomas said giving good customer experience “flows directly to be bottom line”.
“The more that you give customers choice, the more that you actually give them control of their experience, the better experience it is for them,” Thomas said.
“And interestingly enough, the better you can make their experience, the more financially profitable you can be.”
Economy X will be offered for sale from Friday March 31 for flights from May 21 2017.
Economy X seats
Economy X rows
Percentage of all economy
Rows 3-5, 13, 14
Rows 3-5, 10
Rows 20-25, 26, 39