Virgin Atlantic announced last night at a press conference that it will restructure its economy cabin offering to provide three new fare types, including a hand baggage only ticket.

Starting this spring, the airline will be launching the HBO ‘economy light’ fare, along with ‘economy classic’ (which comes with a free checked bag and free seat selection at the time of booking) and ‘economy delight’, which will in essence replace the ‘extra legroom’ seats currently on offer.

Light and classic seats will have a 31-inch pitch, while delight will offer an extra three inches. Classic and delight passengers will be able to choose their seats in advance of the flight, while light tickets will be assigned a seat. Delight fares also entitle passengers to priority check-in and boarding.

All three products include a three-course meal, drinks and in-flight entertainment, as well as an in-seat USB charger.

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 787 aircraft would be losing six economy classic seats to make room for more economy delight seats.

Along with the new fare types, Virgin Atlantic announced it will be introducing automated bag drop facilities at Gatwick this summer and at Heathrow this winter. The airline will also add 12 new A350-1000 aircraft to its fleet from spring 2019.

Virgin Atlantic said the new economy fares are in line with partner Delta’s new Comfort+, Main Cabin and Basic products.

Kreeger commented: “We’re unveiling the biggest change to our economy cabin in over a decade – launching three new ways to fly, and a host of innovations on the ground and in the air as part of a wider £300 million investment in our customers. We know that one size doesn’t fit all, and from spring our customers can afford to be choosy and still travel in the UK’s leading economy cabin.”

Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Atlantic, added: “When I started Virgin Atlantic I wanted to challenge the status quo and make flying amazing – regardless of which cabin you’re in – and that’s still true today. We’re unveiling a multimillion pound investment to make Virgin Atlantic’s economy cabin the best of any UK airline and setting the bar for others to follow.”

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