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Trip Review - Virgin Atlantic (Premium Economy)

London, UK
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278 posts
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Trip Review - Virgin Atlantic (Premium Economy)

I recently flew Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy (VA – PE) from London Heathrow to San Francisco, returning 2 weeks later. I have flown British Airways World Traveller Plus (BA WT+) before (to Vancouver and Chicago from London Heathrow and from San Francisco and Denver to London Heathrow) but when booking our trip BA were talking again about strikes combined with the fact that you cannot pre-book seats (unless you pay a supplement) we didn’t want to take the risk of cancellations (it was enough worrying about the ash cloud!) so we thought we would try VA. In my opinion VA PE have the edge. Here are some of my thoughts which might help others if trying to decide between the 2 airlines (pluses and minuses):

Free pre-book seats (just need check in on line 12 hours before to “confirm” those seats) No need for a mad dash/panic to check in 24 hours before (last year I checked in with BA dead on 24 hours before and couldn’t get 3 seats together!)

Separate check in desk for PE passengers (although we just used Bag Drop) (not available on BA)

Board plane first (along with Business Class) after passengers with travelling children/those requiring extra time (BA board WT+ last (done by seat numbers)

Bottle of water on your table when we boarded (none with BA)

Sparking wine/orange juice before take off (not available with BA)

Seats recline more than BA but as a consequence this reduces the space you have

Menu card

Ice cream during the afternoon (on outward flight) - Very nice!

Excellent meal service – nicely presented and choice of bread roll (if wanted) – food OK

Friendly, helpful cabin crew (same as BA but they tend to be a bit more “formal”)

Separate liqueur service

Purple lighting very relaxing

Hot towels after take off

Priority on bags being unloaded (not available on BA)

Sweet before landing (on outward flight)

Amenity pack included pen, eye mask, ear plugs, toothpaste & pen (in a nice wallet)

Blanket with a V shape neck – fits around your neck easier

Entertainment – on demand loads of movies, TV, music (same as most BA flights)

Flight map (not as good as BA)

No separate toilet – shared with economy passengers (separate on BA)

About 12 rows (compared with 4 or 5 on BA (could potentially make the cabin noisy)

Foot rest (same as BA but BA have an extra bit on your seat for your calves)

This is just my view but hope it helps.

UK
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1. Re: Trip Review - Virgin Atlantic (Premium Economy)

Thanks, useful, but surprised you didn't mention the difference in the seats, I haven't flown on the new Virgin PE but my understanding is the seats are more luxurious and wider than BA's?

I do think BA need to freshen up WT+, not just with better seats but also priority checkin and the other little touches you mention. I suppose they are worried about cannibalizing business class travel but I think the economy is doing that anyway.

New York City, New...
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2. Re: Trip Review - Virgin Atlantic (Premium Economy)

Free pre-book seats (just need check in on line 12 hours before to “confirm” those seats)

______________

Didn't know that...Isn't 12hrs before pretty awkward if you are flying during the afternoon? I don't fancy the thought of getting up at 3am to confirm my seat...whatever confirming it entails.

The BA product is more focussed on just a better seat than economy whereas Virgin have a more complete product. The occasional time I have looked up VS PE versus BA WT+ Virgin has been a lot more expensive (I get free seat assignments on BA) so it isn't necessarily an apples to apples comparison.

BA's WT+ is due to get a refresh imminently though. Haven't heard any details but might ask crew on my flight later this week if they can give any cheeky details...BA's first 777-300 is due to be delivered with the new seats and has taken its first flight with Boeing already.

London, UK
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3. Re: Trip Review - Virgin Atlantic (Premium Economy)

Thanks for your replies. Yes the seats on VA PE are a little wider than BA WT+ but to be honest I didn't really notice too much of a difference. "Confirming" seats means checking in on line which opens 24 hours before the flight departs (so no need to get up early) and I believe as long as you check in at least 12 hours before the flight the seats you pre-booked are yours. (Of course they do say like any airline it could be subject to change).

Philadelphia...
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4. Re: Trip Review - Virgin Atlantic (Premium Economy)

Seatguru.com campares the seats:

Both PE seats of BA and VAtlantic have a pitch of 38", but VA is 21" wide and BA is 18.5" wide.

www.seatguru.com/charts/premium_economy.php

We flew VA PE, and were pleased. I think the 2.5" makes a difference.

Manchester
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308 posts
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5. Re: Trip Review - Virgin Atlantic (Premium Economy)

all good news for me...flying Virgin PE for the first time in September, we looked at BA and their flights in WT+ were quite a lot more.

We recently flew Virgin ecomony and whilst it was okay it wasnt as good as our previous flight with them a few years ago....and another vote for awful food, I think its the worst I've ever had!

guess you cant have everything (actually on Singapore airlines i think you can!!).

Vancouver, Canada
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6. Re: Trip Review - Virgin Atlantic (Premium Economy)

We recently flew BA WT+ to/from London. For us, it was all about the seat pitch (rather than the level of service) and we were really happy with the room we had (as opposed to economy).

It seems from post #4 that the seat pitch is the same for both BA and Virgin. However, it seems from OP that, within that seat pitch, the person in front can recline more on Virgin than on BA, thereby cutting into your seat "space". Do I understand that correctly?

(Virgin does not, as yet, fly into Vancouver, although they were making noises about doing so earlier this year. Given that "space" is the reason we pay the premium, the amount of incline of the seat in front might make a difference for us, if we are ever given the choice.)

Thanks.

UK
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7. Re: Trip Review - Virgin Atlantic (Premium Economy)

<<However, it seems from OP that, within that seat pitch, the person in front can recline more on Virgin than on BA, thereby cutting into your seat "space". Do I understand that correctly? >>

I think you do, or at least my recollection is that I did feel more "oppressed" with Virgin PE than BA WT+ - however its a few years since I flew Virgin PE and the new seats have come in since then. I last flew BA WT+ in January and didn't feel so "trapped" as I vaguely recall with Virgin. BA are rumoured to be upgrading WT+ soon however these changes typically take a few years to roll out across the fleet.

Vancouver, Canada
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8. Re: Trip Review - Virgin Atlantic (Premium Economy)

Thanks, Joe. I guess we'll just have to wait and see what sort of upgrades BA does. Hopefully, the actual "space" will remain the same (but the seats, themselves, will be more comfortable).

Sydney, Australia
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9. Re: Trip Review - Virgin Atlantic (Premium Economy)

Thanks for a good comparison of the two products.

10. Re: Trip Review - Virgin Atlantic (Premium Economy)

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