Boeing 787 Dreamliner
We finally got the chance to take a look at the New Economy Delight Product from Virgin Atlantic. Well, we say NEW it was actually released in 2018 but we hand not got a chance to fly this class until now, something to do with Air Travel being shut down for 2 years! So finally we for onboard to see if the upgraded Economy experience is much better than the Standard Economy experience, or Economy Classic as it is called.
We love the Premium Experience from Virgin, one of the best out there and only a few steps sway from upper/business class on some airlines. But this Premium comes at a cost, sometimes upwards of £500 per flight. The Economy Delight level is designed to give you something a touch over the basic cattle class but not be so extravagant that the cost is through the roof!
We take a flight on Virgin to check this out. We show you exactly what the Economy Delight Product offers, How this translates in reality and what it really is like to fly Economy Delight on an actual Virgin flight.
- Flight Taken – 25th February 2022
- Route – London Heathrow – Las Vegas (Return from L.A)
- Class – Economy Delight
- Price – £350-400* – £50 upgrade each way over Economy
- Aircraft – Boeing 787 Dreamliner – Maid Marrion/Lucy In The Sky
- Score – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.2 / 5 Stars
What is Economy Delight?
Virgin now operates a convoluted 5-tier class system on its flights. There is the now-standard Economy, Premium and Upper/Business Class, but Economy is now split into 3 separate Classes.
- Economy – Light
- Economy – Classic
- Economy – Delight
- Upper Class
Economy Classic is the regular Economy you expect on Trans-Atlantic/LongHaul flights, at least with scheduled carriers like Virgin. You get a checked bag, seat selection at booking, free drinks and meals, and a small cramped seat in the back. Here is our take on Economy Classic!
Economy Light is a No-Frills option. For those who don’t really need any extras. They just want a seat…any seat, and to get to go where they have booked. There is no seat selection, no checked bag, but you still get the same service as the rest of the Economy Cabin so it’s not “that” no-frills. Honestly, we think the main reason Virgin introduced this is so it appears cheaper o the various Price Comparison Pages. We can think of a few times where people might wish to fly transatlantic with no bag and no pre-selected seat but on the whole, it’s a pretty useless product. But Virgin Flights appear a few bucks cheaper in the search engines and only at booking do you see the real price.
Economy Delight is very different. It is an upgraded Economy Experience. It’s not Premium, but it’s not Basic Economy either. You get a few extras and perks, but on the whole, it’s just Economy with a few tweaks.
- More Space – Larger Seat Pitch
- Separate Cabin*
- Premium Check-in
- Priority Boarding
- Extra Virgin Points
- Priority Service*
We look at these in-depth below but remember the in-flight service is exactly the same no matter what class of Economy you are in. The seat is also the same, you just get a touch extra legroom, and a tough is 3 inches, not a lot but makes a real difference
* by priority service we just mean you get served first. They start at the Economy Delight section and move back through to the back of the Plane. This, along with the separate cabin is also not the case on Some Planes and Configurations such as the A350, but it was the case on the B787 Dreamliner we flew on.
How Much Is Economy Delight?
The Upgraded Economy Experience varies depending on the cost of the flight and the availability. We Paid £50 per person, per leg. While we have seen this surge priced, it is a pretty good estimate of the basic cost of the service.
It is worth mentioning that you can also purchase Economy Prefered seats are also available. These vary from £17.50-£80. These are sometimes just well-placed seats and sometimes Exit-Row Seats. While we think the 3inches given by the Economy Delight seats really help give that bit more room, it’s still going to be cramped for very tall travelers and an Exit Row Seat is still probably the best option for them.
Is Ecomonmy Delight Worth It?
The upgraded offering seems pretty good value at £50 when even Preferred seats, with no extra legroom, check-in, or perks are around £35 each those few added extras seem a good deal. But as ever without actually getting on board it’s hard to tell. So we did just that!
When we wrote our Economy Review in December there was a noticeable lack of “little touches” that we are used to getting with Virgin Atlantic. These are the reasons we keep coming back to them and consider them our favorite Trans-Atlantic Airline.
We ended that review with the line “We do hope these little touches return soon.”
So we were excited to get back in the air with Virgin again to see if their service has got back a bit closer to pre-pandemic levels.
On our latest trip to the States, we booked onto Virgin Atlantic once more to make use of our final “saved” flight from the pandemic. We had booked this flight for…honestly we can’t remember we have booked and rebooked so many times we lost track.
However, we have used the Virgin Atlantic booking system extensively and booking is clear and easy with the Final Prices displayed throughout. We find we always start by pricing up the Economy basic and then at the end the option to upgrade to Delight is there and the price for the upgrade is clear.
You can also book just one leg as delight either the out or back. Or book as Classic and upgrade at a later date by simply selecting a Delight Seat in the seating planner. We actually didn’t book Delight for this flight and were instead looking to score a cheeky upper-class upgrade through the bidding system. However, this failed, and we jumped at the £50 Delight upgrade instead.
We have mentioned the benefits of Delight above, but the real one for us was not listed. Essentially it was a great way to 95% ensure we would not be getting a Seat-Mate.
You see most Virgin Atlantic flights now operate cabins that have 3-3-3 Seat configurations (the exception being the A330) and this means flying as a couple we are likely to get someone sitting next to us that we don’t know. While this isn’t the end of the world, it’s a bit inconvenient on long flights especially if they are prone to sleeping, and we have to keep waking them for toilet breaks. It’s also not great in Covid Times. We just enjoy our flights more alone. So by using the Delight Upgrade we can see how full the cabin is and if there are any free rows we can select.
You see it’s unlikely someone, as the flight approaches, will suddenly decide to upgrade from Light/Classic Economy to Delight just to choose a seat that is already partially occupied. They are likely to have already upgraded, due to the need for more legroom and extra comfort, or they would only do it at this stage to get a free row or better location.
As long as availability is light this really works like a charm and we had the row to ourselves every time. You can also do this with the Preferred Seats as the same rule applies. All in All this meany Wall-E got a seat all to himself!
Travel Requirements And Covid Safety
In our last Review of Virgin Atlantic, we gave some in-depth thoughts on Covid Saftey during flights. We will not re-hash that here but feel free to read our thinking here. But in short, we feel Air Travel has been deeply misrepresented and scapegoated during the pandemic. We have felt terrible pressure and judgment even from family for traveling during the pandemic and even more understand people still think the risk is too great.
We have always felt far safer on a plane than in our local supermarket and the same people still pack into crowded pubs and restaurants while demonizing Air Travel. The truth is that Ventilation on planes is phenomenal and all but eliminates the risk of transmission. Along with meticulous cleaning, really Airtravel is one of the safer activities to consider during a pandemic and as long as travel requirements are met, there really is very little risk, certainly no more than doing your weekly shopping.
And let’s remember, the USA had its borders closed for months, it didn’t exactly help, did it?
When this flight took place we were still under pretty strict travel requirements. Flying out to the US required proof of full vaccination and negative Covid tests (PCR or Antigen) the day before the flight along with an attestation form.
Coming home we had less stringent requirements and while we were away these were actually lifted meaning there are no travel requirements coming back into the UK.
Documents for the US were checked at check-in and were not then re-appraised when we got to the US border, but you are still required to have copies available as they “could” be checked at entry.
Virgin also offers the Fly-Ready service which means your documents are checked (by a human) before you even get to the airport. This is highly recommended as it reduces stress at the airport and also gives another REALLY big benefit that we will go into next.
As we were flying from Heathrow but we live in manchester, we had driven down the day before. So we used Randox at Heathrow to provide the Antigen Test. The test center is right next to our hotel and super convenient, which really for us the most important part about choosing a test center/company. Pick what is most convenient for your trip. The result was back before we had checked into our rooms and we proceeded to fill in the Virgin Fly-Ready and the very simple attestation form.
In the morning we headed over to the Airport in an Uber. The traffic was pretty light and we arrived in good time. There was a choice of three Check-in queues at Virgin’s dedicated Terminal 3. As we were Economy Delight, we could use the Premium Check-in Queue. Which seemed to be pretty long and slow-moving. Or we could still use the regular, but things were even worse there.
However, this is where, for now, the Virgin Fly Ready really comes into its own. There were only a handful of people in this queue and it was by far the fasted moving. As we had completed the process and had all our docs checked we headed into this queue and were sorted in a few moments.
Unfortunately, this negated one of our perks of being Economy Delight as we were unable to use the Premium Check-in. However, it also highlights the issue with allowing this as a Delight Perk. The premium Check-In is now not much shorter than the Economy. With the whole Premium Delight along with the Premium Cabin now all squeezed into this one queue, it really didn’t look like it would be much faster. Upper Class have their own line, and that’s good as they would probably riot if they had to join this melee after forking out so much!
While this is less of an issue for the Delight Customers, I think we would be a little upset in Premium having such a large “dedicated” Check-in! FWIW the Economy Queue looked about 20-25 mins long with the premium about 15 mins, and of course, the Upper was basically walk-up. The fly-ready was less than 5 min, much less.
We assume in the not-to-distant future, the US will rescind the entry requirements and the Pandemic fades, but for now, the Fly-Ready option is by far your best bet regardless of what class you are flying.
We then headed off and made use of our Priority Pass to enjoy a lounge. We love the lounge life and really struggle now to visit airports when a lounge is not available, something we had to get used to in the states! But this meant we missed another benefit of Economy Delight, Priority Boarding.
For us, this is never a great perk. We were boarding an 11hour flight, what is the rush to get crammed into your pre-assigned seat? You are going to be there for a while, it’s not overly important to get into it early! Ok with Premium or upper you are settled into your large comfy space with a welcome drink and that’s wonderful, but back in economy, you are simply sitting there with just the In-Flight Shopping magazine for company?
So, as usual, we sauntered in late, slightly inebriated, and just wandered onto the plane when ready. It really is the best way, but if everyone did that the plane would probably be late!
In the case of Priority Boarding, there is not much to it, they just call Delight, 4th in order before the rest of economy, so it’s Extra assistance, Upper, Premium, then Delight, then the rest. So even if you do get use of this perk, it’s not much of one anyway.
So Up until now, there really was very little advantage to Delight, the Premium Queue was only slightly better and we don’t really care about the Priority boarding, so a lot of it hanging on the seat, or at least the 3 inches of legroom!
Cabin and Seats
On the 787 the Economy Delight is in a separate cabin area of the plan, it’s not quite sealed off like the Premium Cabin, but the toilets provide a barrier and it feels private, which is nice. The position on the aircraft is above the wings which is less than ideal for us as the view out the window is somewhat compromised. But overall it’s a nice space and feels a little more exclusive.
This is not always the case, on the A350 the Delight section is in between two other Economy Sections, and on the A330 while the Delight section is furthest forward it just merges into the regular economy with no break. But we really liked the 787 configuration.
The seat itself is really comfy. We were routed in place for 11 hours out and 10 hours back and were never massively uncomfy, the extra legroom is really nice. It’s not going to help really tall people much, but it gives enough breathing room that it no longer feels claustrophobic. All but the tallest people will have enough legroom and there was loads of space under the seat in front to stretch the legs out, there is an annoying IFE box in the way for the end seats of the row, but this is present in Economy and Premium, without the luxury of extra legroom!
Remember the seat is exactly the same as economy, Same Width, Same IFE, Same Recline, Same everything, it is just the fact the Seat in front is positioned 3 inches further away. This sounds like nothing, but it actually does make a big difference and is the same seat pitch as premium and they feel really roomy (but they are much wider)!
Aircraft – Boeing 787 Dreamliner
The Dreamliner is still easily our favorite plane that Virgin Operates. There has been a lot of Buzz around the A350 but it did not live up to the hype in our opinion. Let’s be clear this section is all about Aviation Geekery and for most people it has very little relevance.
The Dreamliner has a really nice Cabin. There is mood-lighting, but unlike the A350, it’s subtle. it provides a tint of color whereas the A350 bathes everything in whatever color is chosen and normally it’s Purple, at least on a Virgin Flight. Spending a long time bathed in a strong purple glow is a little annoying TBH we prefer more natural light. The Dreamliners moonlighting if far less obtrusive.
The windows are also massive! the A350 has larger windows than the older airliners, but they are not close to the huge 787 portals. The 787 also has Electrostatic Window blinds, not only are these really cool (they will keep the kids entertained for hours), they mean you can partially block the outside world out. This means if there is not much going on outside, then you can put the blinds on 50%, this keeps the sun from washing out your IFE Screen, but you can still keep tabs on the outside world through a darkened lens and open up if something exciting happens!
From an Aviation point of view, it just feels like a better plane. We were amazed at how loud and bumpy the A350 was. It seemed to be constantly applying thrust, moving around in the air, and making hard work of the flight. The 787, powers up to the cruise and just glides across the pond. Maybe piolets feel very different but it’s just a better experience in the back of a 787!
The Biggest advantage of the Dreamliner, and it shares this with the A350 is the Cabin pressure at 8,000 ft, instead of 10,00ft. This seems inconsequential and most people overlook it, but the difference this makes is ENORMOUS.
Spending time at 10,000ft when you are not used to it is rehabilitating. The air is dryer there is less oxygen, and after a long flight, it leaves you tired and fatigued with dry sinuses. At 8,000 ft the difference from sea level is negligible. After flying on the Dreamliner and A250 with this lower altitude Pressurisation, we now dread flying on older planes as the whole experience is much more uncomfortable.
Masks were required on both flights, however, there is a rumor these may soon be dropped for flights into counties where they are no longer required, so your return flight, maybe soon, but they will be required and enforced on all flights into the USA for some time.
Dining And Service
Virgin does not advertise this but Economy Delight Customers have from our experience got Priority Service. By this, we simply mean you get served before the other guests. This makes sense as A: you have to start somewhere and B: the Delight guests are usually at the front of the aircraft.
This is a minor advantage as you really are not going anywhere and if you have to wait a little while for your drinks or meal, it’s no big deal, but it’s always nice to be first. And there is a chance they will fun out of any particular meal option.
Other than that the service is identical to Classic Economy. And the good news is most of the little extra’s that were missing from our last flight seem to have mostly been restored. We had 3 separate services, the main meal service, Snack Service, Mile High Tea, and a mid-flight Ice-Lolly.
Service Started with the Drinks Trolly which offers the usual beer, wine, and Spirits with mixers and obviously soft drinks. And while our favorite Cheese and Onion Pretzels have not made a comeback there was a salty snack to go with our first drinks.
The Main Meal was a choice of Vegetable Thai Curry and Chicken Pasta. We both went with the Tha Curry as we fancied a bit of spice and flavor, It was ok but obviously the veg and rice wildly overcooked, but there was a decent amount of spice and was fairly palatable. This came with Soft cheese and crackers and a pretty tasty Chocolate Pot, that was far too small as is always the case.
The wine was back in bottles which is a good thing for many, (Although it was Return of the Cans for the return Flight!)
This was followed by a Tea/Coffee Service but we were also able to order Drinks from this service. There was then a break in proceedings as we let the meal settle, and after a few hours, the snack service was brought round. This consisted of a Cheese Toasty and another Beverage service. Not long after we got our Pineapple Ice-Lolly.
Finally around an hour before landing the Mile-High Tea was served. Unfortunately, we had a big issue with the last Cream Tea Virgin Served and we were ready to bring the hammer down this time, but the situation was rectified! Yes, the clotted cream is BACK!
There was a cheese and tomato roll, strawberry jam, a current scone, and a little tub of Clotted Cream. Sorry but it’s just not an afternoon tea without clotted cream…and of course tea.
As far as we were concerned this was a return to form. We got everything we used to get and everything we expected. We really had made good use of our lounge so the drinks service was perfectly adequate, we didn’t even need to ask about additional drinks, see we were more than happy. We think the snack serve may still be missing on shorter haul flights, but overall it’s really back up to standard and most of those little touches are back.
On the return flight, it was more of the same, only with a large chunk of the flight the cabin lights were off to encourage sleep, and service was reduced to the odd pass through offering water or juice. We still got the same drinks services, main meal, and a pretty hearty breakfast. There was no snack or ice cream but this would have been during the lights out phase and 95% of us asleep, and the rest trying.
The Virgin Cabin Crews are always delightful. And this was no different. The last flight we took was right at the beginning of the reopening so there was a little extra spring in their step as we think they were just as happy to be back in the air as us. This has faded as the normality of things has kicked back in but they were still as happy, bubbly, and polite as ever.
One special mention needs to go out to the Pilot, we have experienced hundreds of landings but this one was sublime. We don’t often mention the landings unless it’s one of those where they try and put the plane through the tarmac, but wow this one was gentle. We could barely tell we were down apart from a slight rumble of the tarmac. Absolute perfection!
In-Flight Entertainment – IFE
We are still pretty downbeat about the IFE. We used to really rate VERA, but the selection has just not returned to the old ways. There are two issues one is Virgin’s fault the other less so. First, the movie release schedule is pretty slow at the minute sp there are only limited NEW movies available, and most of what we wanted and expected were there. Virgin can’t help this unless they start making movies, so we just have to wait for things to pick up.
The big issue is the back catalog though. We used to easily be able to find fun and relevant things to watch but now there really is very little going on in the back catalog. This needs urgent expansion. There is little choice or variety. There are more NEW movies than older ones and that should never be the case.
Due to this We did take a look at VERA’s Music choices and found a really healthy selection of music available. From a huge array of artists and genres, there is probably something for everyone, great if you want to slap an album on and just try and get some sleep.
This is also one area the A350 really beats the 787. The Screen on the A350 is HUGE and really clear. The touch screen is really responsive and the flight tracking amazing, with exterior cameras and loads of viewing options and brilliant Picture in Picture so you can watch a film AND keep tabs on the flight. The 787 is already feeling old. Small, low res, and a bit clunky. Tech like this moves so fast but IFE seems to lag behind quite a bit and can feel old FAST!
Arrival into Vega was uneventful and we were off the plane and into Immigration in no time. Unfortunately, this is where things slowed down as US immigration was Sloooow. With no automated stations open it was well down to Agents who just seemed in no rush at all. Due to this Baggage was waiting for us and off we went on our adventures!
The return leg was more of the same. At check-in, there were no longer any requirements. The Premium Queue was really short, but then so was the regular economy so there was no wait in either queue. Again Priority boarding got us on the plane a little quicker, and for longer. It was all a bit of a rush as we were clearly running late for our slot.
Dinner was an interesting Fried Chicken dish, and came with Cheese and crackers and Canned Wine! There were two beverage services and a hearty breakfast after the long Lights-out Portion of the flight.
The 787 Chairs are not as well suited to sleep as the A350. They have a similar headrest but the A350 is more adjustable and helps support the head better so you don’t move as much and wake yourself up.
After the sleep, the breakfast was a 3 part meal. Honestly, it’s fat too much after a long flight and disturbed sleep. We think the idea is most people won’t want or like all three items and as such will just pick what they want. There was a HOT cheese and Tomato Croisaint, a Blueberry Porridge, and a cereal Breakfast bar. The Croissant was nice, and the Porridge really creamy which hit the spot after a horrid night, the cereal bar was too much but we pocketed them and they were pretty tasty when we finally got round to them.
This is in no ways virgins fault but we arrived back into Heathrow to utter chaos, enough to make us just want to jump back on the plane and get the hell out of the country. over 2.5hours to get out of the airport and on our way!
Overall we have two main points to make summoning up, one about the Economy service in General and the other about whether the Delight Upgrade is worth it.
On this flight, we really felt the service was back up to snuff. We were really concerned that the flight experience was cut back for covid but they had used the restart to seriously diminish the offering as a cost-cutting exercise. Sometimes when things are taken away for good reason, they are kept away when the reason is removed and the resulting profit simply snaffled up by the old provider.
This doesn’t seem to be the case. The service offered us just about everything we used to get and we were once more delighted by the little extras and regular bits and pieces that were offered throughout the flight. Maybe they have bumped prices a little to cover this, but honestly, if that’s the case we would prefer this to a miserable and unexciting flight! We just need them to fill out the VERA back catalog now!
Secondly, Is the Economy Delight Product worth it. We really do think so. The fairly modest £50 upgrade got us seats by ourselves a much roomier Seat Pitch, zero waits for the service, and a slightly more upmarket and exclusive feel.
The added legroom is more than enough to remove that claustrophobic feeling you can get on Economy flights, but not enough to remove the issue of the person in front slamming the seat back the moment the seatbelt light goes out. The semi-private Cabin in the 787 is nice and really helps with the upscale feeling.
The Priority Boarding and Premium Check-in are only minor perks and sometimes not even worth anything, so we would not suggest the upgrade for those.
The main selling point for us was the ability to at least partially, control who was sitting next to us. While this is no guarantee, and will definitely not work on full flights, the chance to pick a row that will probably not have anyone extra seated in it was worth WAY more than £50. As such we will probably use this service whenever we fly Economy from now on!
It is not what the Service was designed for but it really can be used that way and for that reason it is invaluable.
Have Your Say
Have you flown Economy Delight in any of Virgin’s services? Let us know your thoughts on the service? Which aircraft were you flying on? How did you find the extra legroom? Was the Premium Check-in a time save or not? How was the service on your flight? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, and fire off any questions in the comments too,