From spring 2018 customers will be able to choose from three different ticket categories within economy – ‘Economy Delight, ‘Economy Classic’ or ‘Economy Light’.
Economy Delight will feature 34-inch legroom, priority check in and boarding as well as advanced seat assignment. The airline is retrofitting its fleet to provide up to 36 such seats on every flight.
Economy Classic will now include free seat assignment, while Economy Light “will always offer Virgin Atlantic’s lowest fare”.
All customers travelling in economy will have inflight entertainment and a three-course meal, plus complimentary drinks and snacks.
From 2019, Virgin Atlantic will also allow customers to pre-select their meal in economy.
Every seat in economy now offers a personal USB charging point and access to high speed Wi-Fi.
Other changes for the airline include the introduction of automated bag drop at London airports.
Four kiosks will open at Gatwick this summer, followed by a further 18 kiosks at Heathrow from winter 2018.
Elsewhere, 12 new Airbus A350-1000 aircraft will join the fleet from spring 2019, including a new economy cabin “designed with Virgin Atlantic’s customers in mind”.
Craig Kreeger, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, said: “We know that one size doesn’t fit all, and from spring our customers can afford to be choosy.
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.”
Virgin Atlantic’s move follows British Airways’s unveiling of a new long-haul “basic” fare for some transatlantic flights from April.
BA said that the new fare will offer “a lower price point and more choice”. The airline added that the fare will include in-flight meals in the economy cabin, plus in-flight entertainment, carry-on baggage allowance and allocated seating at check-in.
The fares will not include checked bags or choice of seat selection, although passengers can choose to pay for these options individually.