Virgin Australia rolls out Economy X 'extra legroom' seats

By David Flynn, May 22 2017

Virgin Australia's new Economy X 'extra legroom' seats are now flying across the airline's entire fleet – from its domestic workhorse Boeing 737s and long-range Boeing 777-300ER jets to the Airbus A330s, Embraer E190s and even the nimble Fokkers and ATR turboprops used on regional routes.

In each of those aircraft anywhere from one row to five rows of the economy cabin now boast a minimum of 3 inches (7.62cm) of extra pitch or legroom.

Other components of the Economy X package include reserved overhead locker space, to which you also have dibs due to priority boarding...

... and on international flights there's premium check-in, a 'guaranteed first meal choice' and the same noise-cancelling headset as handed out to business class travellers.

Virgin Australia group executive John Thomas says there's been "incredible demand" since the rollout of Economy X began last month.

Economy X legroom in pictures

So how does that extra legroom translate in the real world?

Here's the view at row 4 on Virgin Australia's Boeing 737, where Economy X delivers a 34 inch pitch (we measured 15 inches from the front of the cushion to the rear of the seat ahead).

For comparison's sake, this is the legroom at a standard economy seat: a much tighter fit at the knees, with the 31 inch pitch translating into 11.5 inches from the front of your seat cushion to the rear of the seat in front.

Those extra three inches of Economy X make quite a difference in comfort.

Of course, row 3 (located directly behind the bulkhead wall of the business class cabin rows) remains the prize pick with a stretch-friendly 30 inches of legroom.

How much does Economy X cost?

The price for that inflight comfort plus other conveniences begins at $29 on short domestic flights such as Sydney-Melbourne and Sydney-Brisbane, with the cost increasing as flights become longer.

Trans-Tasman flights as well as Melbourne-Perth will cost $49, with Sydney-Perth and Brisbane-Perth at $59, topping out at $149 between Australia and Los Angeles.

Note that Velocity Platinum frequent flyers will be able to pre-select Economy X seats free of charge on domestic and trans-Tasman flights – although not on international routes – when making their booking or any time before check-in, along with any companions travelling on the same booking.

However, Platinums will no longer enjoy exclusive access to the prized row 3 on the Boeing 737s – that row is also be available to any passenger regardless of status, provided they pay the Economy X surcharge and know to select a seat in row 3.

Here's the full breakdown of Economy X seating across the Virgin fleet.

Aircraft Type

Economy X capacity

Economy X location

Boeing 737-800

30 seats

Rows 3-5; Row 13 & 14

Boeing 737-700

24 seats

Rows 3 -5; Row 10

Boeing 777-300ER

57 seats

Rows 20-25; Rows 26 & 39

Airbus A330-200

8 seats

Row 28

Embraer E190

4 seats

Row 12

ATR

4 seats

Row 1

Fokker 100

5 seats

Row 12

Fokker 70 

5 seats

Row 10

Reader comments on Economy X are encouraged below, however comments regarding Virgin's overall business model and financials should be made in this discussion in our Community section: Virgin Australia is still not making money

David
David

David Flynn

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

reeves35

reeves35

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 510

Interesting that the A330 has such a comparatively low number of YX seats.  Given the trans-continental and HKG routes these fly, this seems strange.  The A330 is always pleasantly spacious but I'd have thought there'd have been more of a market for the extra space on them too.

Trogdor

Trogdor

11 Dec 2015

Total posts 68

Doesn't make sense to me either. I would think there'd be plenty of people on the redeye from Perth who'd gladly tip in $59 for more room, myself included

GregXL

GregXL

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 May 2014

Total posts 390

Could be the A330s are to get PE.  Would be another good differentiator against QF and would sell well on the PER runs.

GBRGB

GBRGB

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2014

Total posts 208

Smart move by VA, having these seats at the front also enhances the advantage of buying them as opposed to Emer Exit seats further down the plane, I only use VA on TSV-SYD because QF don't have a service but will happily pay the extra.

johnaboxall

johnaboxall

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 724

Note to larger folk, row 3 armrests on B737 are solid and cannot be moved. 

FrequentFlyer

FrequentFlyer

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Mar 2012

Total posts 204

Very similar to Delta Comfort+, hope it works out as popular. I'd like to see Virgin operate more like Virgin America and Delta. 

They've got good service and their hard products are fine but I can't help but feel their marketing and accessibility aren't cashing in. 

Virgin America manage to have a Virgin Blue-esque funky brand image and still appeal to the more conservative corporate customer. Further, their website is much easier to use and straightforward, VA's is comparatively clunky.

russell

russell

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2011

Total posts 323

Great move and I think the pricing is pretty good also. I know I would go for it.

VA_flyer

VA_flyer

10 Aug 2016

Total posts 4

Reports yesterday that Platinum grade FF's who have selected Economy X seats were "downgraded" if another passenger wanted to buy that seat selection prior to departure. A Platinum Velocity status colleague checked into 3C but was moved to 12E yesterday on an ADL-MEL service before boarding while in the lounge as "another passenger had bought that seat". Seems like this issue needs to be ironed out otherwise it is not really a benefit to Platinum if it is subject to availability...

Jack3193

Jack3193

24 May 2017

Total posts 4

Very worrying - but how is that actually possible in practice? Once a seat is assigned (even ahead of OLCI opening), it's no longer available for selection using MMB, or during OLCI (I've checked this on my own forward bookings). So the only way I can see that this could happen is if a VA rep manually goes in to bump Platinums out of their selected seats, and then sells them to someone else (over the phone? at the physical check in desk?). 

peteshep

peteshep

15 Feb 2013

Total posts 134

That's disgraceful...

Whatever

Whatever

08 Aug 2012

Total posts 11

Surely a day 1 glitch. 

StudiodeKadent

StudiodeKadent

20 May 2015

Total posts 584

This is a good move by Virgin. It addresses a demand, helps provide an equivalent to the "Economy Space Plus" product (although I wonder why Virgin used a different brand for it on domestic routes...), and will improve their margins.

Tancho

Tancho

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

31 Jan 2013

Total posts 26

Seems reasonably priced for what you get. I would certainly consider it.

Doubleplatinum Banned

Doubleplatinum Banned

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum

07 Feb 2013

Total posts 558

No point putting the markers on the overhead bins, the usual selfish bogans who dump their bags in business / row 3 and then make their way down the back will continue to do so unfortunately.

dennismel

dennismel

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

21 Mar 2017

Total posts 6

I'm flying on Wednesday from Melb --> Adl. I've booked 3D Economy X . Will let you know what happens! I am Velocity Platinum. Thanks

Papeto

Papeto

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

18 Jan 2016

Total posts 5

Yes it may help if the crew stop storing their suitcases in the Economy X lockers.  

ma77mc

ma77mc

22 May 2017

Total posts 1

Didn't stop them on the 1pm SYD - MEL service on Thursday. 

Bob Greenberg

Bob Greenberg

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

08 May 2017

Total posts 13

Looking at Virgins Facebook page there has already been a huge backlash from their Gold and Platinum members regarding Economy X and in particular the loss of row 3 bulkhead seats. Lot of corporate clients will switch loyalty to Qantas now including myself. 

peteshep

peteshep

15 Feb 2013

Total posts 134

But gold don't get row 3 unless it's empty at airport checkin.

Courty26

Courty26

24 May 2017

Total posts 1

Virgin seems to have lost the plot. Extra legroom seating was working pretty well I thought. Talk about over complicating air travel. On a side note, last month I flew business three long legs, and two short regional legs for 2.1 times the price of economy booking with air nz- VA were selling the identical itinerary, exactly the same seats for 3.5 times the economy cost. Go air nz! 

Nick Sydney 2

Nick Sydney 2

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jul 2015

Total posts 223

Looks like the AA Main Cabin Extra.

GigiPk

GigiPk

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Mar 2016

Total posts 27

Unfortunately Virgin Australia is in the red. Attempting to make up the short fall by changes which don't benefit most Velocity members isn't going to win loyalty. Paying more for extra legroom & then short changing the passenger by not having movable arm rests or lack of storage under seats etc., is common on a lot of airlines, not good PR. 

peteshep

peteshep

15 Feb 2013

Total posts 134

$29 seems bloody expensive to me for an hour MEL-SYD. And given the number of platinums on this route, it's going to get a lot of people off side especially if they don't book ahead of time.

Robbo032

Robbo032

08 May 2017

Total posts 3

Bought $29 upgrades from Syd to Melb and back on Mon/Tues this week, 3A and 4C. All six seats were filled both directions (off peak flight times too), which negates a bit of the extra legroom factor. Row 3 worth the upgrade, but row 4 on full flight? Would probs try for an emergency exit with my gold status first.

Guvner

Guvner

12 Sep 2014

Total posts 28

So basically you are paying extra to get what, in reality, should be standard economy seating. You know, where you can actually get in and out of the seat and not have your knees up under your chin for the entire flight.

peteshep

peteshep

15 Feb 2013

Total posts 134

So where has the extra space actually come from?  The exit row seat numbers haven't changed (ie. there is no extra seat between rows 14 and 30, and no less rows between rows 3 and 12). They couldn't really shrink the front galley any further could they?  So if not, that means the seats from rows 6-12 must have been squashed in further?  So the Platinums and Golds sitting in these rows who have missed out on rows 3-5 now actually have even less space? even if 6 inches were added to rows 4 and 5 (because 3 had room already) that's nearly an inch per row reduction from rows 6-12...

Bob Greenberg

Bob Greenberg

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

08 May 2017

Total posts 13

I am Platinum on both Virgin and Qantas and normally use Virgin for domestic and Qantas on international. I had to make a last minute booking today for Sydney Melbourne return for this Friday which is a common flight for me. I booked on the Virgin site first and all the row 3 and 4 seats where already taken. I do this trip fortnightly and have never missed row 3 bulkhead before so assume Economy X had got in first - for  " only $ 29 " who wouldn't. 

I clicked out of Virgin and went straight to the Qantas site and guess what - row 4 bulkhead fully available both legs for the same price so I'm going Qantas from now on and so is just about every other Platinum member that I have spoken too. Thanks for the loyalty Virgin.

Whatever

Whatever

08 Aug 2012

Total posts 11

I can't see how Row 4 on Qantas would be any different, nor better, than Row 5 on VA (which from your comment was available)  34" seat pitch, dual sidewall windows vs 31".   It would even have to be almost exactly the same number of seats from the front door being QF have an extra J row.

J-sh

J-sh

29 Oct 2016

Total posts 35

Well done VA. On the still 3-3-3 across B777s the X legroom will be much appreciated and a very serious contender on flights to the UA. Compare that with the obfuscation and dissimulation from Qantas's PR machine (regurgitated on this site by David Flynn) about Qantas about having an extra 1" legroom on the B787 neglecting to mention they'd narrowed the seats by 1" compared with the A380. Go VA.

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