We have always loved Virgin Atlantic for their non-conformist leanings, great customer service, and sweet amenities, so they were perhaps the last airline we'd have predicted to join the annoying "Additional Fee Club."
From April, the airline will begin charging passengers to select their seats more than 24 hours in advance. The new system will begin with the Gatwick-to-Las Vegas route, then extend to all routes (except London-to-Tokyo) by June 1. Passengers wishing to make a seat selection will have to pay £25 ($40) each way – quite a significant extra cost –although the website makes the following statement: "Don't worry, if you're flying with children, we always make sure they sit next to a parent or adult guardian (a child would be less than 12 years old). We'll also always make sure you get a seat most suitable for your needs if you're a disabled passenger."
British Airways introduced a similar system a few years ago and now charges between $12 and $42 for selecting "normal" (i.e. not exit row) seating.
You will still be able to choose your seat within 24 hours of departure but, as for making a selection at time of booking to ensure you're not stuck in a middle seat next to the toilets, unless you have the spare cash, those days will soon be over.