As part of the new product launch, Virgin will reconfigure its Boeing 737 aircraft to offer three rows of extra-legroom seating at the front of the cabin. This is in addition to the two emergency exit rows in the centre of the cabin. Three inches of seat pitch will be added to rows 4 and 5 (the second and third rows of Economy), which will both become “Economy X” rows. That additional space will be created either by shifting forward the divider between Economy and Business class, or removing some legroom from row 3.
Virgin advises that Economy X seats will come with at least 34 inches of seat pitch, an increase from the usual 31 inches. Exit row seats on all Virgin Australia aircraft will also become Economy X seats, retaining their current generous legroom.
Platinum Velocity Frequent Flyer members can currently select seats in row 3 (the front row of Economy on 737 flights) for free. This is a key benefit of Platinum status as the legroom in row 3 is substantially better than other rows. There has been some concern among Platinum members that the introduction of Economy X would result in the loss of this benefit.
The good news is that Platinum members can select Economy X seats free of charge from the time of booking. As Economy X seats include exit rows, this means Platinum members can now also select exit row seats for free. The travel companions of Platinum members may also select these seats for free.
At least something to differentiate WP and SG and actually make me try to qualify for WP.
By contrast, Qantas recently started charging its own Platinum members to select exit row seats.
However, some members fear that increased competition for front row seats will make it harder for Platinum members to secure the best seats – especially if they book at the last minute.
I reckon it will be harder to get the Row 3 seat now!
With prices starting at $29 for short domestic flights, Economy X is a reasonably compelling product. In addition to extra legroom, Economy X passengers receive dedicated overhead lockers, priority boarding and priority security screening. Benefits on international flights extend to priority check-in, as well as noise-cancelling headphones and first meal choice on long-haul flights to Los Angeles and Hong Kong.
Although Economy X will not officially launch until 21 May, many of Virgin Australia’s Boeing 737 aircraft have already been reconfigured. Several members have recently sat in rows 4 and 5, and they’ve noticed the extra space.
I was on a VA flight a few weeks back and did think that the amount of legroom seems unusually large!
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