Qantas, Virgin, Rex: extra legroom seats compared

Flying economy is easier when there’s enough legroom to stretch out and even cross your knees for comfort.

By Staff Writers, August 4 2023
Qantas, Virgin, Rex: extra legroom seats compared

Business class is indeed a great way to fly, but limited premium seating on domestic flights means economy is often the reality for most travellers – and just because you’re down the back, doesn’t mean you can’t be comfortable.

That’s where ‘extra legroom’ seating comes into play: usually providing the same travel experience as regular economy, but with more room to stretch out.

While low-cost Jetstar offers this too, here’s what extra legroom entails on mid-market carriers Virgin Australia and Regional Express, as well as Qantas.

Extra legroom on Qantas Boeing 737 flights

Qantas has two types of ‘extra legroom’ seating on Boeing 737 flights – those any passenger can reserve at an additional fee, and seats reserved for selected frequent flyers at no charge.

Which rows have extra legroom on Qantas?

You’ll find Qantas’ main batch of extra legroom seats at the emergency exit rows: that’s rows 13 and 14 on Boeing 737 flights, offering 7-8 inches of extra space compared to a standard seat.

These can be reserved for an additional fee over and above the fare price – but take note, these differ from “preferred seats”, which are simply closer to the front, and offer no extra legroom (or even a window, in row 9).

Separately, row 4 also offers extra legroom – situated at the very front of the cabin – but remains reserved for Qantas Platinum One frequent flyers and Chairman’s Lounge members (and others travelling on the same booking) until closer to the flight.

There's space enough for comfort and a small cabin bag, or you can remove it to stretch further forward.
There's space enough for comfort and a small cabin bag, or you can remove it to stretch further forward.

If these seats are still vacant within 80 hours of departure, they may become available to other travellers at no charge.

How much does extra legroom cost on Qantas?

The price you’ll pay for an extra legroom seat on Qantas varies between flights.

Expect to pay more on a longer journey, and less on a shorter hop, for example:

  • Sydney-Melbourne / Sydney-Brisbane: $30
  • Brisbane-Melbourne: $40
  • Sydney-Perth: $70

These charges are per person, per flight – so when travelling with a partner from Sydney to Perth and back, that extra comfort costs an extra $280, over and above the standard fare price.

Fees are waived for Qantas Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge members, and may not be levied to other frequent flyers if waiting until online check-in to secure an exit row seat, or if changing seats at the airport.

Extra legroom on Virgin Australia Boeing 737 flights

Virgin Australia brands its extra legroom experience as ‘Economy X’, with choices beyond the emergency exits and the very front row.

Which rows have extra legroom on Virgin Australia?

Virgin Australia Economy X stretches across rows 3, 4, 5, 13 and 14.

Row 3 is the choice pick at the front of the cabin, with nobody in front to recline into you.

Alternatively, the exit rows at 13 and 14 also provide a good amount of space: 7-8 inches more than regular seat, in fact.

If these prized options are taken but you’d still like to stretch out, rows 4 and 5 offer three inches of additional legroom – not as generous as the alternatives, but still better than a standard seat.

Those jetting off on the new Boeing 737 MAX 8 have a largely comparable legroom experience to the older fleet, though there is one row enjoying a significantly roomier experience. It’s Row 3 – and exceptionally spacious (at least for the time being).

Row 3 Economy X currently enjoys significant legroom, though a new-look divider will eventually be added.
Row 3 Economy X currently enjoys significant legroom, though a new-look divider will eventually be added.

That’s because the privacy divider between business and economy has yet to be installed, although Virgin says we can expect to see it either by the end of this year or early next. In the meantime, it’s sure to be a highly-coveted position.

The 737 MAX 8 has the same exit rows, though Row 3 is decidedly roomier.
The 737 MAX 8 has the same exit rows, though Row 3 is decidedly roomier.

How much does extra legroom cost on Virgin Australia?

Like Qantas, the price you’ll pay for extra legroom varies based on the length of your flight – but can differ even on journeys of comparable lengths. For example:

  • Sydney-Brisbane: from $40
  • Sydney-Ballina/Byron: from $34
  • Brisbane-Melbourne: from $44
  • Sydney-Perth: from $74

Virgin Australia waives these fees for Velocity Platinum members and others on the same booking as these travellers – just make sure the frequent flyer number is linked to the reservation before selecting seats.

What else does Economy X include on Virgin Australia?

Given Virgin Australia’s higher asking prices for these extra legroom seats versus what Qantas is charging on comparable routes, travellers would rightly expect a little extra.

On that front, Virgin adds ‘preferred’ overhead locker space to the package – being the lockers directly above these seats – but these lockers are rarely guarded by crew members, and of course, those sitting at the bulkhead and the exit rows must store all bags overhead anyway.

There’s also priority security screening, where available: but this isn’t currently offered at key airports like Sydney or Brisbane, and even in Melbourne, what was previously the priority line has had its Virgin Australia Economy X signage removed.

Priority boarding is offered as well, but again, Economy X is often skipped during pre-flight announcements (which welcome only business class passengers, Velocity Platinum and Velocity Gold) – and at some airports, Economy X remains absent from priority boarding signage.

In short, be pleasantly surprised if you can use any of these advertised benefits on the day of travel: and if you’re already a Velocity Gold or Platinum member, there’s no difference to your pre-flight experience in any case.

Extra legroom on Rex Boeing 737 flights

Travelling on Rex’s emerging network of domestic jet routes and want to stretch out? Keep your eyes peeled for ‘Rextra Legroom’ seating.

Which rows have extra legroom on Rex?

As Rex flies Boeing 737 jets that were formerly part of the Virgin Australia fold, the cabin layout remains exactly the same, with extra legroom in rows 3, 4, 5, 13 and 14.

Again, row 3 (pictured) is the favourite, with rows 13 and 14 also offering comparable space.

Mirroring Virgin Australia, rows 4 and 5 provide an extra three inches around the knees.

How much does extra legroom cost on Rex?

Rex keeps things simple, charging a flat $15 per sector for a seat in its Rextra Legroom zones, over and above the standard fare price.

That fee is lower than both Qantas and Virgin Australia: but without a personal frequent flyer program of its own, it’s a charge not waived to status-holders, as there are none.

Instead, you may be able to select a Rextra Legroom seat at no charge at the airport check-in counter or kiosk, if seats remain available shortly before departure.

Is it worth paying for an extra legroom seat?

Whether there’s value to be had in paying for extra legroom is a decision for each traveller to make.

Some frequent flyers will prefer to save their cash on short hops and reserve that extra space only on longer routes – while others, particularly with longer legs, may appreciate having more room to move regardless of how many hours they’re spending from gate to gate.

For travellers whose frequent flyer status provides complimentary extra legroom seating, choosing these rows is a no-brainer: and by booking any travel companions on the same ticket, that perk extends to everybody on the same reservation, without reaching for the credit card again.

08 May 2020

Total posts 84

For good part of 10 years i enjoyed the Row 3 with Platinum, however mainly due that Virgin no longer does New Zealand Routes I missed getting to the required Mileage having the colour lowered to Gold, having to travel with Air NZ and Qantas a number of times in the 12 months. I guess this is how it works and times change.

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