As much as business class -- and, increasingly, premium economy -- are on the business traveller's radar, sometimes you just can't avoid flying at the back of the bus.
But Virgin Atlantic has brought some of its trademark glam to economy, glitzing up the long haul from Sydney to Hong Kong and Heathrow and making it a little more cheerful and bearable.
Let's hope that this is part of a trend improving long-haul economy service, since it's trickier to make alternative arrangements for a 24-hour trip to London.
The first thing you'll notice is the welcome fruit juice cocktail (with or without vodka), served in a snazzy purple glass with a Virgin swizzle stick.
But the main difference is when it comes time to eat: there's a smaller main tray, however the dessert has grown in size and is served separately.
Virgin's new meal tray is a third smaller than the old version -- welcome if you're watching TV or a movie on your phone or small tablet on your table -- with a salad, roll, and the same economy-style hot main course.
But don't worry: you won't end up with less dinner!
In addition to the larger desserts, you'll also see a hot drink: tea, coffee or (taking a leaf out of Qantas' overnight flight book) hot chocolate, in a decent-sized insulated paper cup, which Virgin Atlantic says is "much more like something you would get from a coffee shop on the ground."
And the ice cream service has been snazzed up too: instead of passing around with a basket, you'll see the crew wearing old-school usherette trays. We reckon that's a nice touch that stops an economy class food revamp from seeming just like a cost-cutting exercise.
For breakfast or afternoon tea, you'll pick up a deli-style box containing either a continental breakfast or that quintessentially British high tea with clotted cream and jam.
What's the best economy class food you've ever had? And what's the worst? Share your experiences with fellow readers in a comment below.
About John Walton
Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.