Extra legroom in economy: Qantas vs Virgin Australia vs Rex

Flying economy is easier when your legroom stretches closer to business class...

By Chris C., November 17 2021
Extra legroom in economy: Qantas vs Virgin Australia vs Rex

Business class is a great way to fly, but economy is the reality for most travellers – and just because you’re down the back, doesn’t mean you can’t be comfortable.

That’s where ‘extra legroom’ seating comes into play: usually providing the same travel experience as regular economy, but with more room to stretch out.

While low-cost Jetstar offers this too, here’s what extra legroom entails on mid-market carriers Virgin Australia and Regional Express, as well as Qantas.

Extra legroom on Qantas Boeing 737 flights

Qantas has two types of ‘extra legroom’ seating on Boeing 737 flights – those any passenger can reserve at an additional fee, and seats reserved for selected frequent flyers at no charge.

Which rows have extra legroom on Qantas?

You’ll find Qantas’ main batch of extra legroom seats at the emergency exit rows: that’s rows 13 and 14 on Boeing 737 flights, offering 7-8 inches of extra space compared to a standard seat.

These can be reserved for an additional fee over and above the fare price – but take note, these differ from “preferred seats”, which are simply closer to the front, and offer no extra legroom (or even a window, in row 9).

Separately, row 4 also offers extra legroom – situated at the very front of the cabin – but remains reserved for Qantas Platinum One frequent flyers and Chairman’s Lounge members (and others travelling on the same booking) until closer to the flight.

There's space enough for comfort and a small cabin bag, or you can remove it to stretch further forward.
There's space enough for comfort and a small cabin bag, or you can remove it to stretch further forward.

If these seats are still vacant within 80 hours of departure, they may become available to other travellers at no charge.

How much does extra legroom cost on Qantas?

The price you’ll pay for an extra legroom seat on Qantas varies between flights.

Expect to pay more on a longer journey, and less on a shorter hop, for example:

  • Sydney-Melbourne / Sydney-Brisbane: $30
  • Brisbane-Melbourne: $40
  • Sydney-Perth: $70

These charges are per person, per flight – so when travelling with a partner from Sydney to Perth and back, that extra comfort costs an extra $280, over and above the standard fare price.

Fees are waived for Qantas Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge members, and may not be levied to other frequent flyers if waiting until online check-in to secure an exit row seat, or if changing seats at the airport.

What’s the Qantas inflight experience like?

Regardless of row number, all passengers travelling in Qantas economy receive complimentary meals or snacks to suit the time of day.

Add to that, a range of non-alcoholic drinks on every flight, plus beer and wine at no charge on most domestic services departing from late afternoon: or earlier in the day, for cross-country treks.

Inflight entertainment is complimentary, either via a seatback screen or streaming to your own device, depending on aircraft. Some aircraft also come with USB power outlets.

Qantas is also the only domestic airline to offer inflight Internet access, with the WiFi being free for all passengers.

Extra legroom on Virgin Australia Boeing 737 flights

Virgin Australia brands its extra legroom experience as ‘Economy X’, with choices beyond the emergency exits and the very front row.

Which rows have extra legroom on Virgin Australia?

Virgin Australia Economy X stretches across rows 3, 4, 5, 13 and 14.

Row 3 is the choice pick at the front of the cabin, with nobody in front to recline into you.

Alternatively, the exit rows at 13 and 14 also provide a good amount of space: 7-8 inches more than regular seat, in fact.

If these prized options are taken but you’d still like to stretch out, rows 4 and 5 offer three inches of additional legroom – not as generous as the alternatives, but still better than a standard seat.

How much does extra legroom cost on Virgin Australia?

Like Qantas, the price you’ll pay for extra legroom varies based on the length of your flight – but can differ even on journeys of comparable lengths. For example:

  • Sydney-Melbourne: $35
  • Sydney-Brisbane: $40
  • Brisbane-Melbourne: $55
  • Sydney-Perth: $79

Virgin Australia waives these fees for Velocity Platinum and Velocity VIP (The Club) cardholders and others on the same booking as these travellers – just make sure the Platinum or VIP number is linked to the reservation before selecting seats.

Some Velocity Gold members have also recently enjoyed complimentary access to Economy X, albeit on request only via the call centre as part of a recent suite of perks alongside their status extension, although this temporary benefit ends on May 31.

What else does Economy X include on Virgin Australia?

Given Virgin Australia’s higher asking prices for these extra legroom seats versus what Qantas is charging on comparable routes, travellers would rightly expect a little extra.

On that front, Virgin adds ‘preferred’ overhead locker space to the package – being the lockers directly above these seats – but these lockers are rarely guarded by crew members, and of course, those sitting at the bulkhead and the exit rows must store all bags overhead anyway.

There’s also priority security screening, where available: but this isn’t currently offered at key airports like Sydney or Brisbane, and even in Melbourne, what was previously the priority line has had its Virgin Australia Economy X signage removed.

Priority boarding is offered as well, but again, Economy X is often skipped during pre-flight announcements (which welcome only business class passengers, Velocity Platinum and Velocity Gold) – and at some airports, Economy X remains absent from priority boarding signage.

In short, be pleasantly surprised if you can use any of these advertised benefits on the day of travel: and if you’re already a Velocity Gold or Platinum member, there’s no difference to your pre-flight experience in any case.

What’s the rest of the Virgin Australia inflight experience like?

Whether taking a quick ‘triangle’ hop or embarking on a longer cross-country voyage, Virgin Australia’s economy experience now offers only complimentary water, tea and coffee.

Anything else – including snacks, juice, soft drinks or alcohol, even on evening flights – is now chargeable.

Inflight entertainment is also available through your own device only, with no seatback screens on any of Virgin Australia’s current fleet.

USB power is available on 15 of Virgin Australia's Boeing 737 jets which are currently serving on selected domestic flights: however, there's no way to predict whether your flight will offer this, so plan accordingly.

Extra legroom on Rex Boeing 737 flights

Travelling on Rex’s emerging network of domestic jet routes and want to stretch out? Keep your eyes peeled for ‘Rextra Legroom’ seating.

Which rows have extra legroom on Rex?

As Rex flies Boeing 737 jets that were formerly part of the Virgin Australia fold, the cabin layout remains exactly the same, with extra legroom in rows 3, 4, 5, 13 and 14.

Again, row 3 (pictured) is the favourite, with rows 13 and 14 also offering comparable space.

Mirroring Virgin Australia, rows 4 and 5 provide an extra three inches around the knees.

How much does extra legroom cost on Rex?

Rex keeps things simple, charging a flat $15 per sector for a seat in its Rextra Legroom zones, over and above the standard fare price.

That fee is lower than both Qantas and Virgin Australia: but without a personal frequent flyer program of its own, it’s a charge not waived to status-holders, as there are none.

Instead, you may be able to select a Rextra Legroom seat at no charge at the airport check-in counter or kiosk, if seats remain available shortly before departure.

What’s the rest of the inflight experience like on Rex?

Rex one-ups Virgin Australia in providing all guests with not only free tea, coffee and water, but a complimentary snack as well.

That said, there’s no streaming inflight entertainment available on Rex, only the inflight magazine – so anything else must be brought with you.

Is it worth paying for an extra legroom seat?

Whether there’s value to be had in paying for extra legroom is a decision for each traveller to make.

Some frequent flyers will prefer to save their cash on short hops and reserve that extra space only on longer routes – while others, particularly with longer legs, may appreciate having more room to move regardless of how many hours they’re spending from gate to gate.

For travellers whose frequent flyer status provides complimentary extra legroom seating, choosing these rows is a no-brainer: and by booking any travel companions on the same ticket, that perk extends to everybody on the same reservation, without reaching for the credit card again.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Dec 2017

Total posts 52

Thought economy travellers weren’t part of the target audience…

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2585

Hi whoppersandwich, while economy class travel isn't the site's primary focus, we do recognise that for many business travellers, corporate policies restrict business class (and other premium cabins where available, like premium economy) to journeys of X hours or more, and so from time to time, we publish content about economy class flights: primarily, those shorter hops.

It's the same approach we've taken for a number of years, which has seen us publish reviews of experiences like Air New Zealand trans-Tasman economy and Works Deluxe, Rex economy, Rextra Legroom economy, Alliance Airlines economyVirgin Australia Economy X, and more broadly, Lufthansa European economy class, SAS Plus (on both the Boeing 737 and Bombardier CRJ900), and QantasLink Boeing 717 economy.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2568

I'll just add here that in those happy pre-COVID years we had extensive coverage of international routes, and for those the core focus was definitely business class (scaling down to premium economy and up to first class), so the ratio of 'business reviews vs economy reviews' was higher due to the international content - but on the domestic front we're certainly looking at economy as well as business class.

23 May 2011

Total posts 33

Some VA 737s have USB power in economy 

04 May 2015

Total posts 271

You're thinking of Qantas. No VA B737 has any kind of power in economy... even in VA business, you're lucky to get an outlet as they're only installed on a small percentage of the fleet (and even then, only in business, not economy).

03 Mar 2021

Total posts 2

I had USB power on my BNE-SYD flight on VA about 1 month ago, sitting in EconomyX

08 Aug 2012

Total posts 14

Hey Chris, 

Why do you say VA  dont have power when some do. Ive been on a number of flights with economy USB power.  

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2585

Hi Whatever, in over 100 VA flights, I'd not once been on an aircraft with USB power in economy, but have now confirmed with Virgin Australia that USB power is available on 15 of the airline's Boeing 737s, so have updated the article.

Those power-equipped jets were previously flying short-haul international routes, and have been swung onto domestic services for now: and I spotted them for the first time this week on a Brisbane-Sydney flight. Certainly a nice feature to have.

22 Sep 2017

Total posts 55

Although labelled "extra legroom" it's really extra seat pitch.

One big advantage is the usability of a laptop in these seats, compared to standard economy where this is borderline impossible.

Would it be possible to add some photos of a standard-issue corporate laptop in use?  Does it fit, is the tray table stable enough for a laptop and mouse, what happens if the seat in front reclines?


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