Passengers in the know can still find comfortable economy options on long-haul routes thanks to airlines such as Virgin Australia.
The 13-hour journey between Australia and the US West Coast still represents a substantial time to be on an aircraft and no-one likes to be treated like a sardine.
Virgin has retained nine-across standard economy seating in its Boeing 777-300ERs at a time many have already opted for noticeably narrower seats in a 10-across option.
This means a generous 18.5-inch seat width, compared to just over 17 inches in some airlines. Virgin has also retained a 32-inch seat pitch compared to seat pitches of 31 inches or lower.
The seat has a six-inch recline, a USB port to power personal devices and seat-back entertainment.
Couple this with an award-winning cabin crew, historically low fares as well as wi-fi and complimentary food and beverages and it’s an offering hard to ignore.
But if that’s not enough, the airline can take you back to the glory days of air travel with 57 “Economy X” seats with a seat pitch of at least 34 inches.
That’s putting it between economy and premium economy in terms of legroom and it comes with a bevy of extras.
Economy X passengers on international long-haul flights get premium check-in and boarding (where available) and preferred overhead locker space.
There’s also a guaranteed first meal choice to ensure you get the food you want and premium noise-canceling headphones.
And at $199 one-way on Sydney-Los Angeles, it’s the most cost-effective way of maximizing your comfort without upgrading to premium economy.
An interesting fact is that Virgin tries not to sell seat 20H because of its proximity to the galley and toilets.
Premium economy, of course, is as good as it gets in economy and Virgin Australia’s is among the best.
It begins with premium check-in with a baggage allowance of at least two 32kg bags followed by a welcome champagne cocktail with canapes.
As the airline points out, there are times when a journey warrants something special and this cabin gives you a generous 41-inch seat compared to 38 inches at many airlines. There’s also an extra inch of width for each seat in a 2-4-2 layout with its own cabin.
There’s also a 10.6-inch seatback in-flight entertainment screen, noise-canceling headphones, in-seat electrical power and USB connectivity.
A nine-inch recline allows passengers to settle back with luxury pillows and blankets after refreshing with REN skincare products and Mandarin Duck amenity kit.
Passengers get an a la carte menu complemented by fine wines and liqueurs.