One rung beneath Business Class on a Virgin Australia long-haul flight is Premium Economy. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t want to splurge the extra dosh on something that’s only going to last for 13 hours. After all, spending about $1,500 AUD more on a more comfortable environment equates to another whole return Economy flight!
What I will say is that when flying Virgin Australia, choosing Economy X is the must-do upgrade! It’s only $179 each way but the extra legroom is so worth it. I had paid for this upgrade but about a week before departure, Virgin emailed me asking if I’d like to bid to upgrade to Premium Economy or Business Class. Tempting, I thought. I placed a bid for $500 (the minimum allowable) and thought, well you only live once; this is a good way to try it and see what all the fuss is about. Imagine my surprise when I found out that not only was my bid successful, but that the $179 extra I’d paid for Economy X would be refunded! Sweet deal!
What do you get for your Premium Economy dollars?
Legroom is a big drawcard. When you’re travelling for 13 hours, comfort is important, but for me, ‘some’ extra legroom works; what they provide in Premium Economy is more than I need. It’s a nice-to-have but it’s not the be-all-and-end-all. Now if the seats could lay back flat, that’d be a different story but alas, that’s the exclusive privilege of Business. Premium Economy seats 12 in a 2-4-2 configuration. My seat was 16C (aisle on the left hand side). The legroom really is glorious. You can moooove. The seat pitch is 41″ and the recline is 9″. Very nice. And you get in-seat electrical power and USB connectivity, also lovely.
But you also get some other nice perks. Upon boarding, you’re treated to a welcome drink (I chose a Kir Royale champagne cocktail … lush!). Waiting for you on your seat is a luxury Mandarina Duck amenity kit which contains a lip balm, tissues, eye mask, toothbrush and toothpaste, ear plugs, socks and a pen, and you also have the use of much better pillows and blankets than in Economy. The seatback inflight entertainment screen is 10.6″ and you are given pretty decent noise cancelling headsets to use.
You get to choose your meals from the a la carte dining menu and they’re served on crockery with civilised proper cutlery and glassware. You can request Nespresso coffee, enjoy a Madame Flavour tea and help yourself to the premium pantry items. The meals were delicious! I was served a really lovely soup for starters and then the main course was delivered once I was finished, followed by the decadent dessert.
I missed taking photos of breakfast but suffice it to say, it was every bit as scrumptious.
As a Premium Economy passenger, you also get priority boarding but my Velocity Gold membership helped out with that anyway.
Would I choose Premium Economy again?
If money were no object, then yes, in a heartbeat! But then if money were no object, I’d choose Business. But since I am seriously afflicted with the travel bug – something that’s quite new for me – I want to manage my resources well enough to be able to afford more trips. I think even if I could pay just the minimum upgrade bid (equating to $500), I would still choose Economy X.
Ok, so what about Economy X?
When my sons and I travelled to the US in April, we upgraded to Economy X and I think that the value for money you get from that $179 extra is the ants’ pants. For my return flight this time around – 15 hours from LAX to Melbourne – I upgraded again and was more than happy with Economy X. Of course it would be lovely to have the a la carte menu and the other fancy schmancy things but truthfully, for the money, I’ve been delighted with Economy X. Apologies for the blurry photo below, but at least you can see the leg room available in Economy X. Actually, I got an even better seat because I was at the front near the bulkhead. The only issue is that the TV and tray table are stowed to your side but it wasn’t a problem to me.
Virgin Australia in general
I do love my Virgin Australia. I trust the company to conduct itself safely and professionally. The staff are always pleasant on board the aircraft. The call centre staff are helpful and the lounge facilities are impressive. I will say, however, that I encountered a couple of snarky, unprofessional staff members in the Melbourne lounge upon my return. “One of these things is not like the other” indeed. Considering it was nearly the end of my trip and that all my dealings with Virgin were wonderful, they really let the team down. But let’s not let that detract from the excellence of the airline overall.
My domestic flights in the US were all Delta. I’m pretty happy with them too, as I was last trip. The joke is that DELTA stands for ‘Doesn’t Ever Leave The Airport’ and we did experience an extremely lengthy tarmac delay before a flight from JFK to Phoenix in April but hey, it happens. I’d rather be safe than scattered over the mountains somewhere!
Anyway, thanks Virgin Australia. You do a great job and I’ll be choosing you again next time I travel. And I would, even if I didn’t have a nice chunk of Velocity points in my account!