Virgin Atlantic is a popular international airline that flies out of the UK to more than 35 destinations in the United States, Africa, Asia, and Europe. This four-star airline offers a solid rewards program, called Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, that gives generous rewards and numerous redemption opportunities. Virgin Atlantic flights are consistently comfortable and clean, so you won’t find us complaining.
Have a Virgin Atlantic flight coming up? We’ve put together a review of this airline’s baggage fees, allowances, and policies to give you a good idea of what you can expect when you fly.
Virgin Atlantic Baggage Rules
Virgin Atlantic’s baggage allowances and policies are pretty standard all around. This airline is really transparent about its fees and offers a straightforward process for purchasing baggage and checking it in.
One thing to note is that Virgin Atlantic made several changes to its baggage policies since December 9, 2019. If you haven’t flown with this airline since then, you might find that some rules are different from what you remember. We will point out any significant changes here in case you’ve been sitting on a reservation for a while.
Checked Baggage Allowance
Most Virgin Atlantic tickets included free checked baggage. Only Economy Light passengers need to pay for all of their bags as this inexpensive flight class does not include any checked baggage in the price of a ticket. Here are the checked bags included in all other classes.
Passengers in Economy Classic and Economy Delight are permitted one piece of checked baggage, passengers in the Premium Cabin are permitted two pieces of checked baggage, and passengers in Upper Class are permitted two pieces of oversized checked baggage.
Checked bags in Economy and Premium cabins can measure up to 90 x 75 x 43 centimeters or 35.5 x 29.5 x 16 inches and weigh up to 23 kilograms or 50 pounds. Checked bags in Upper Class can measure up to 90 x 75 x 43 centimeters or 35.5. X 29.5 x 16 inches and weigh up to 32 kilograms or 70 pounds each.
Flights booked before December 9, 2019, allow for three checked bags in Upper Class. All flights booked after must follow the above allowance.
Note that you cannot combine your checked baggage allowance with other people in your party no matter what class you’re in.
You will need to follow a partner airline’s checked baggage rules if your ticket does not begin with “VS.” For example, Delta Airlines if your ticket begins with “DL.” Also, checked baggage allowances are different for Virgin flights when one of your destinations is:
You can read more about the exceptions for these flights here.
How to Get Free Checked Bags
Virgin Atlantic gives almost everyone free checked bags. Unless you’re flying Economy Light, your ticket includes complimentary checked baggage.
If you’re in Economy Light and you want to purchase checked luggage or another seat class and you want to pay for excess baggage fees, here are two of our favorite travel credit cards for earning rewards.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 within three months of signing up. This card earns 5x points on travel purchased through Chase, 3x points on all other travel, and 10x points on hotels and rental cars booked through Chase. This card also gives you a 50% value when you redeem points for travel. You can book Virgin Atlantic flights and pay fees with Chase rewards points.
Capital One Venture Rewards
Earn 60,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 within three months of signing up. This card earns 2x miles on travel purchases made through Chase and 1.25x miles on everything else. Cardholders receive a $100 credit toward Global Entry and TSA PreCheck membership fees. Use your points to pay for tickets and baggage. Be sure to understand your odds of approval and credit score required before applying.
Excess Baggage Fees
You will need to pay excess baggage fees if taking extra bags or bags weighing or measuring over the allowance for your flight class. You can add up to seven extra bags to your reservation online or up to 10 extra bags at the airport.
Checked bags measuring greater than 90 x 75 x 43 centimeters or 35.5 x 29.5 x 16 inches are considered oversized unless you are in Upper Class. Checked bags are considered overweight in Premium and Economy if they weigh greater than 23 kilograms and in Upper Class if they weigh greater than 32 kilograms.
The fee for overweight baggage is $100 per bag and the fee for oversized baggage is 300 USD per bag. You need to pay both fees for a bag that is oversized and overweight.
Small instruments and pieces of sports equipment such as tennis rackets can be carried with you as your personal item. Larger instruments and sports equipment can count as checked baggage, but you’ll need to pay excess baggage fees if it weighs or measures more than the standard allowance. You will pass these off at the departure gate to be stored in the plane’s hold and returned to you at the arrival gate.
Sports equipment weighing more than 32 kilograms cannot be checked, but you may be able to transport them with Virgin Atlantic Cargo. Contact Cargo directly to discuss cargo bookings. Select sporting equipment such as bows and arrows and sporting firearms require additional paperwork.
Alternatively, you can book a seat for your oversized musical instrument. Instruments with their own tickets can weigh up to 75 kilograms or 165 pounds and measure up to 20 centimeters or 12 inches above the seat’s top. A cello, for example, would be acceptable. These must be strapped in and secured safely with an extension, if necessary.
Hand luggage or carry-ons are included in the price of every ticket. Passengers in Economy Light, Classic, or Delight and those in Premium are allowed one piece of hand luggage for free. Upper Class passengers are permitted two pieces of hand luggage.
Your carry-on can measure up to 23 x 36 x 56 centimeters or 9 x 14 x 22 inches. This is the maximum size allowed in every cabin class. In Economy and Premium, carry-ons may weigh no more than 10 kilograms or 22 pounds. In Upper Class, your carry-ons can weigh up to 16 kilograms or 35 pounds total, with a maximum individual weight of 12 kilograms or 26 pounds.
All passengers may bring a personal item in addition to their hand baggage on every flight. These may include purses and backpacks, duty-free goods, coats, infant food or formula, umbrellas or canes, laptops and electronics, etc.
There are no strict size and weight requirements for personal items, but the expectation is that you are able to comfortably carry them with you throughout the duration of your travel.
Medical assistive devices and mobility aids such as wheelchairs and breathing apparatuses are permitted at no additional cost. These do not count toward your baggage limit.
Infants and Children
Checked baggage allowances are the same for children and infants as they are for adults. They are permitted one piece of checked bag weighing up to 23 kilograms in all cabin classes except for Economy Light.
Children and infants may bring carry-ons, but there are different allowances determined by age. Babies between the ages of 0 and 23 months may fly with one carry-on weighing up to 6 kilograms or 13 pounds and children older than two may fly with one carry-on weighing up to 10 kilograms or 22 pounds.
Infants and children in all classes can travel with a fully collapsible stroller and travel car seat at no additional cost. These are held at the gate.
You may purchase one checked bag per infant at a price of $75.
Bringing Pets Onboard
Pets are permitted on flights to and from the following Virgin Atlantic flight destinations:
- Hong Kong
- Los Angeles
- San Francisco
- St Lucia
If you don’t see your flight listed, pets aren’t allowed. However, service animals are permitted on most flights. Call customer service with questions about service animals.
Book travel for your pet at least seven days before your plane is scheduled to depart and note that space is not guaranteed, so the earlier you add them to your reservation, the better. You will need to provide paperwork such as proof of vaccinations for your pet. Contact cargo to find out what fees you will pay.
Currently, pet bookings are unavailable. They have been paused until 2022 for new reservations.
Valuable, Fragile, and Other Items
Valuable and fragile items are not to be packed with the rest of your checked luggage. They should travel separately in a marked suitcase or carry-on of their own for maximum safety. Virgin Atlantic is not responsible for valuable items that are damaged.
If you’re traveling to an event and need to bring a large garment bag such as a suit or gown, Virgin Atlantic can accommodate. You can count a garment bag as your carry-on in Economy or Premium class as long as it does not exceed 23 x 36 x 56 centimeters or 9 x 14.2 x 22 inches. Otherwise, you’ll need to check it. In Upper Class, a garment bag can count as part of your carry-on as long as it doesn’t weigh more than 12 kilograms.
Some items are strictly prohibited in hand baggage on every flight. These include:
- Smart bags
- Flame lighters and matches without safety
- Toy and replica weapons
- Sharp items
- Sporting bats
- Power tools
If you need to travel with one of these items, you may be able to pack it safely in your checked luggage. Read the full terms and conditions for dangerous items on the Virgin Atlantic website.
Duty-free liquids such as alcohol are also prohibited on some flights. They are permitted on flights departing from the UK and United States, for example, but prohibited or restricted on select connecting flights. Some destinations require proof of purchase, plastic bags, etc. Read the rules for duty-free liquids by destination before flying.
When to Pay for Baggage
If you have an Economy Light ticket and would like to add baggage to your reservation or you need to pay for excess baggage, you can pay for these when booking your ticket. You can also add bags to your reservation from your account at any time before you fly, even at the airport on the day of your flight (though not recommended).
Don’t wait until the last minute because you need to check your bags at least two hours before your flight. You can check in online as early as 24 hours before your flight.
Exclusions and Waivers
Flying Club Gold tier members get an extra piece of free checked baggage weighing up to 23 kilograms on all flights operated by Virgin Atlantic.
Virgin Atlantic offers flight discounts to active members of the UK Armed Forces when they register for the Defence Discount Service. These discounts apply to most flights and other types of travel, but do not include free baggage.
Wheelchairs and other assistive devices are exempt from size and weight restrictions.
Virgin Atlantic gives most passengers free checked bags and carry-ons, and its allowances for size and weight are pretty standard across the industry. This airline stands out for its crystal clear policies. It makes it easy to add bags to your reservation and lets you know exactly what you’ll pay for additional bags, excess baggage, and add-ons such as pets.
Also worth pointing out is that passengers can add 10 additional checked bags to their reservation and the price does not increase for every extra bag. This is an all-around great airline with more than fair baggage conditions.