General /Aug 01, 2016

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy – Up or Down?

Edited February 2021: Since this article was first published, Virgin Atlantic no longer operate a 747 to Havana.

For those who can’t stretch to business class – and that will cover the vast majority of travellers – Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy offers a bit more space and comfort at more affordable rates.

Virgin Atlantic were one of the pioneers of such a class of travel, simply entitled Premium Economy, and have since won numerous awards.

Between London & Havana, Virgin Atlantic currently offer the only direct flight option while, between London & Cancun, they are in direct competition with British Airways who also offer an enhanced economy product, in their case known as World Traveller Plus.

However, unlike British Airways (who operate 777 aircraft on the route), Virgin Atlantic operate 747s to both Havana & Cancun with Premium Economy cabins split between the upper deck and main cabin downstairs. When they first launched services to both destinations, the entire upper deck was given over to Premium Economy with a secondary, tiny cabin of just 2 rows located downstairs. The subsequent refurbishment of the entire Gatwick 747 fleet led to new, improved seating and inflight entertainment but also led to a change in layout.

Now, the upper deck is split between 5 rows of Premium Economy, in a 2-2 configuration and, behind them, 6 rows of economy seating. Downstairs meanwhile, the Premium Economy cabin has been expanded to 6 rows in a 2-4-2 configuration. In total therefore, there are 20 Premium Economy seats on the upper deck and 46 seats downstairs. Please click here for details of the seat map.

Unlike Economy class, where seat selection can only be guaranteed in advance by paying a quite hefty fee, passengers travelling in Premium Economy on Virgin Atlantic can choose their seating, for free, at the time of booking. So where to sit?

For the majority of passengers, there remains an alluring appeal about travelling on the upper deck of a 747. Ok, so it’s not quite as exclusive as before, but it still feels a lot more private than the main cabin downstairs. The only things to take into account are that the curve of the aircraft hull is much more pronounced on the upper deck (making it hard to lean against if you are trying to sleep) and that it can get quite chilly – take a sweater.

The downstairs cabin certainly feels less exclusive although anyone who suffers from claustrophobia may appreciate the feeling of extra space. In addition, although most singles and couples will always strive to sit in one of the pairs of seats, families may prefer to be sat together in the rows of 4.

For more detailed tips on the best seats to choose, we recommend that you check out the detailed information and reviews posted on sites such as Seat Guru.

Virgin Atlantic 747

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