Virgin Atlantic is set to reinvent Premium Economy in a £12m revamp which includes a new wider seat - the largest in its class - and additional services to woo business and leisure passengers alike. The seat, which is currently being rolled out across the fleet, combines a 38” seat pitch with a width of 21”, which is wider than BA Clubworld and around 3” wider than other airlines’ Premium Economy products.
The leather seat features enhanced ergonomics for improved comfort. It also features a dual position footrest, lumbar support, adjustable headrest with wings, and a redesigned tray table. All seats provide passengers with lap top power.
Virgin Atlantic’s Premium Economy passengers benefit from many dedicated services when they travel on Premium Economy which include a dedicated check in, a separate cabin, priority boarding, priority duty free and quicker baggage reclaim and a dedicated toilet on the majority of aircraft. They also receive a pre-departure drink and post dinner liqueur.
The new additional services include dedicated cabin crew, a redesigned meal service and dedicated amenity kit. They will also receive a soft fleece blanket and a fruitbowl service, where passengers can help themselves to fruit throughout the flight.
Steve Ridgway, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, commented:
“Virgin Atlantic invented Premium Economy back in 1992 and in recent years our competitors have attempted to imitate the product. After successfully winning market share with the introduction of the Upper Class Suite, we are now focusing on the Premium Economy battleground which is worth nearly half a billion pounds per year. We are confident that this new product will ensure we remain the market leader offering passengers more than any other airline.”
Last year Virgin Atlantic flew around half a million passengers in Premium Economy and between 2000 and 2005 the number of passengers flying in the cabin each year increased by 56%. All indications are that this market is set to grow even more.
Joe Ferry, Head of Design for Virgin Atlantic, commented:
“Passengers are changing the way they travel, with many leisure passengers opting for a more business class-orientated service for which Premium Economy fits the bill. We have extended that business class feel further by taking the knowledge from designing our multi award winning Upper Class Suite and integrating it into enhanced design and comfort for the new Premium Economy seat.”
Due to Premium Economy’s popularity Virgin Atlantic has increased the number of Premium Economy seats on its fleet by one third in the past 18 months. Currently there are 58 Premium Economy seats on aircraft based at Gatwick. The number of Premium Economy seats on aircraft operating from Heathrow ranges from 28 to 38. The configuration of seats on the Upper Deck of the Boeing 747 is 2 - 2 with the configuration of 2-3-2 on the lower deck of 747 aircraft and on all Airbus aircraft.