Virgin Considers Domestic Premium Economy Comeback

Virgin Australia is reportedly considering bringing Premium Economy back on domestic flights. Under the plan, the first three rows of Economy class on Virgin’s Boeing 737 aircraft would be converted to Premium Economy seats with extra legroom. Virgin is also considering adding other Premium Economy benefits, such as dedicated overhead locker space and use of the Business class toilet.

The idea was put forward in a recent series of focus groups, which were attended by an AFF member.

Earlier this month I was invited by Virgin Australia to attend a focus group where the airline wanted to workshop the idea of introducing a form of premium economy on domestic routes.

Anyway their idea is to expand the Space + arrangement which on the Boeing 737s is currently just the exit rows and convert the first three rows of economy into an extra legroom area by increasing the spacing between each row. Apparently most American airlines have this and passengers pay for the extra legroom, dedicated overhead lockers etc.

Our members are largely unconvinced that it’s a good idea. Many question how Virgin would add seats with extra legroom, without removing legroom from other seats.

A massive NO to this idea! They want to introduce a charge for something I already get for free (and provide nothing in return) and they will most likely reduce the seat pitch in some of the remaining rows to make the room for the new Space+ seats. How did they sell this ‘enhancement’ to the focus group?

Platinum Velocity members have been particularly vocal in their rejection of the plan. Platinum members currently enjoy complimentary access to row 3, which on Virgin’s 737s already offers a large amount of extra legroom. Our members do not like the idea of removing Platinum members’ access to row 3, while charging for the same legroom in the form of a Premium Economy product. However, our members would support the proposal if Platinum members received complimentary access to these seats.

Get rid of row 3, and there’s well and truly no point in platinum over gold – I for one wouldn’t bother. On the other hand, give platinums complimentary access to these seats and that’s a real benefit that would justify making an effort to keep the status.

One member believes the idea may also reduce the appeal of Business class. Allowing Premium Economy passengers to use the Business class toilet would increase the “passenger-to-toilet” ratio from 8:1 to 26:1, while also causing in a constant stream of passengers passing through the Business cabin.

Share your thoughts on the proposal HERE.


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]