Virgin Atlantic introduces hand baggage only fares

7 Mar 2018 by Alex McWhirter
Virgin Atlantic B787-9 economy class cabin

As widely expected, Virgin Atlantic has introduced hand baggage only (HBO) fares. It has also announced an upgrade for some economy seats.

The changes are as follows:

There will now be three different economy classes. They are:

  • Economy light: this is essentially a HBO (hand baggage only) product as already offered by US airline Delta (which owns 49 per cent of Virgin Atlantic) and some other European airlines (you can see the news pieces at the bottom of this article). More rivals will follow next month. It remains unclear whether or not HBO tariffs will be limited to transatlantic routes.
  • Economy classic: this is economy as it currently exists, but with free seat assignment and priority check-in and boarding.
  • Economy delight. This is the most spacious of the options : for those who seek more space. Passengers gain 34 ins of pitch (legroom) which is three inches more than normal.  Although its price will be higher it will still undercut premium economy (where pitch/seat size are larger still).

The airline said details on pricing for the new products and the aircraft that will feature the new products will be available at a later date, though CEO Craig Kreeger added that its B787 aircraft would be losing six economy classic seats to make room for more economy delight seats.

The new seating options will be introduced in the spring although no exact date has been given.

Says Kreeger, “We’re unveiling the biggest change to our economy cabin in over a decade – launching three new ways to fly and a host of other innovations on the ground and in the air as part of a wider £300 million investment in our customers.”

“Customers can afford to be choosy and still travel in the UK’s leading economy cabin.”

However behind the hype is it all really new ?

While Virgin Atlantic is to be congratulated on offering passengers more choice, isn’t similar seating to Economy Delight already offered by Dutch airline KLM and its part-owner Delta ?

See details of

KLM’s economy comfort


Delta’s Comfort

And with HBO fares one could claim that Virgin Atlantic is simply following the pack rather than being a leader as it once was.

Business Traveller will provide more details as they become available in the coming weeks.

The new economy classes


  economy delight economy classic economy light
Seat pitch 34” 31” 31”
Advance seat assignment X
Meals and drinks
Inflight entertainment
Checked baggage 1 x 23kg 1 x 23kg X
Hand baggage
Priority check in/ boarding Via Premium X X
Blanket, pillow and headphones
USB charger in seat


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