Virgin Australia Introduces Economy Space Plus

a large white airplane on a runway
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Almost lost amongst yesterday’s announcements of updated Business Class and Premium Economy Class cabins, Virgin Australia also announced a completely new product – Economy Space Plus.

On sale from today, 17 May, Economy Space Plus is Virgin Australia’s version of United Airlines’ Economy Plus and American Airlines’ Main Cabin Extra in that it isn’t a new cabin on the aircraft (they already have 3 of those on their 777-300ERs) but rather a dedicated set of seats within the Economy Class cabin that come with a few extra benefits.

What Is Economy Space Plus?

Currently limited to aircraft flying to the United States and Abu Dhabi (i.e the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft), Economy Space Plus is made up of the first 5 rows of the Economy Class cabin as well as the aircraft’s exit rows.

Per Virgin Australia, passengers booked into these seats will have:

  • Extra legroom; 
  • Access to check-in via a dedicated Premium check-in counter; 
  • Pre-boarding privileges
  • Preferred overhead locker; 
  • Dedicated crew members throughout the flight; 
  • Guaranteed first meal choice; and 
  • Premium noise-cancelling headset.

All this will cost an extra AU$135 and AU$165 depending on route (US$100 – US$120) and can be purchased when passengers select their seat through or through a travel agent.

Virgin Australia is selling Economy Space Plus seating as of today for travel commencing 30 August onwards although, as all 5 777-300s will probably not have been retrofitted by then, some caution should be taken if you’re banking on booking an Economy Space Plus seat in the early days of implementation.

Interestingly there is no mention in the Virgin Australia press release if any of their Velocity Frequent Flyer Elite members will get complimentary access to Economy Space Plus seating (as is the case for some United Airlines and American Airlines elites when flying on their chosen carrier) or if they will even be given a discounted rate.

Not only is there no mention of this in the press release but there’s also no mention of it on the web pages detailing the benefits for Platinum, Gold & Silver Velocity members. This could be an oversight but I rather suspect that this is how things are going to be – Velocity Elites will probably have to pay up just like everyone else.

Bottom Line

I’d pay $100 – $120 extra to sit in a bit more comfort on the length of flights we discussing here (about 12 – 14 hours) and I’m pretty sure a lot of other people will too.  I expect Economy Space Plus to be a good money-maker for Virgin Australia especially as it would appear that their elites don’t get to grab the seats for free.

Even if you don’t feel like paying for Economy Space Plus it’s worth remembering that, currently, Virgin Australia’s Economy Class cabin only has 9 seats in a row on the 777 aircraft and that means that passengers aren’t being squeezed in like they are on other airlines. Regular Economy Class passengers still get 32″ of seat pitch and 18.5″ of seat width when they fly to the US and that’s positively luxurious when compared to most other airlines. Let’s hope things stay that way.