As a long established international business traveller I am used to flights with the mainstream, big name airlines who have often being around for decades. I’m talking about the KLMs, Deltas, Emirates, British Airways and so on. It is rare for me to fly on discount airlines like flybe, Easyjet or Ryanair.
I’m used to flying Business Class (I’m lucky I know) for long haul (transcontinental). For short haul (same country/around Europe) my tickets are typically economy class or as Americans say “Coach”. Thankfully with my frequent flyer cards I am often able to avail myself of airline lounges or fast track through queues since my status is high enough.
As a privileged traveller, (I need to be due to how many flights I take) it was a little daunting to know that I would take a recent trip with a discount airline, the one and only Easyjet. Here is my review of Easyjet.
Much to my bride’s humour I am loathed to fly with the discounters. Ten years ago I flew with Ryanair and hated it so much I vowed never to fly with them again, where possible.
Flight options favour Easyjet
On planning my trip to Hamburg I was faced with a dilemma due to my flight options. Lufthansa (the main German airline) had flights but not direct. The alternative was flying with Easyjet. They flew direct and at times which were very agreeable.
Internet bookings for an online airline Easyjet
Easyjet are an online booking airline, however since this was a work trip our Corporate Travel Agent made the booking for us. They just required my passport details in advance to complete the booking.
Easyjet have also recently moved to fully online check-in. That means that you have to check-in from a computer before you get to the airport. You can do this up to 30 days prior to travel yet you have to also print out your boarding passes (outward and return). Make sure your printer is working and not grumpy like mine is sometimes.
I suppose since Easyjet is an online airline all passengers should have internet access anyway, otherwise how would they make the booking in the first place?
Admittedly this saved some queuing time at the airport. No messing around with the self check-in terminals or hassle with a dim check-in agent.
If you had check-in luggage, which I did then you had to go to the bag drop area in the main hall. This was fairly quick and stress free.
I am more wary of discount airlines since they are very strict with luggage allowances and I’d rather have one price to be all inclusive than paying for little bits here and there every step of the way.
My flight was apparently full and the attendant offered to check my carry-on bag for free because of this. I declined the offer. How could I miss up the opportunity for some blogging time in the airport with my computer!
No security fast track when you are an Easyjet flyer
The next stage of course is security. This is where I missed my big airline flight status. I couldn’t use the “Fast Lane” and glide past the many “once or twice a year” travellers. I had to join the back of the queue and it took half an hour to get through. It was Monday lunchtime at Manchester airport so it is to be expected. I must admit that if I was facing that every few weeks I’d become narked off again. I was used to it in 2000 to 2001 when I went through this scenario every month but thankfully not so often now.
With no Business Class lounge to use I was hungry and had to find something to eat for lunch. My journey to the airport took 2 hours and my taxi driver took amusement on renaming Easyjet as “Sleasyjet”. He’s a funny bloke. I’ve even heard terms such as “easyget” and “easy fly”.
After having lunch I went to figure out where my gate would be. As a frequent traveller this became a bit of a frustration too. It wouldn’t tell me! Well not until 14 minutes before the gate closed!
All the big screens just said wait in the lounge. So instead of waiting at a gate I had to struggle to find a seat in a crowded and noisy lounge area and keep an eye on the screen. Once I did get to the gate I could see that there were very few seats there so in retrospect this was probably a good thing.
Once the gate was announced there was a sudden exodus of people from the lounge towards the gate. Remembering my experience I feared a Ryanair style stampede as everyone bustles for position. This was due to a first come first served basis in terms of picking your seat as you board the plane. After all Easyjet are a competitor of Ryanair.
I noted that my travel agent had selected a front row seat for me, 1D so I need not worry. Somehow my ticket was also enabled for Easyjet’s “Speedy Boarding” so I was one of the first to be called up and board.
I suspect all seats are pre-assigned for Easyjet so there was no massive scrummage thankfully.
My ticket did say that rows 1-14 were to board from the front door and rows 15-31 from the back yet somehow everyone seemed to come through the front door. This is after walking across some tarmac to get to the plane so beware of wind and rain.
The way to passenger comfort on Easyjet
As a front row seat passenger I must say that it was comfortable for leg room. Certainly worth paying extra for that privileged seat. I looked at the seats behind and they really didn’t have that much leg room at all. The seats, as far as I could tell, did not recline so as many seats as possible really were crammed in.
Elbow row was not fantastic but I suppose this is the case in any economy seat from my experience.
With such limited leg room, no reclining seat and no on board entertainment (in terms of a TV seat or music) it is just as well that the flight only took around 1.5 hours. Much longer and I could see a lot of aching and anxious passengers.
As opposed to my experience with Ryanair, I found the on-board Easyjet staff pleasant and courteous. It is fair to say that they were firm and polite in seeking every ones undivided attention for the safety presentation.
In-flight refreshment on Easyjet
During the flight there were no complimentary drinks or snacks, just as well that I had some water left over from my lunch. On board you could buy snacks and drinks. Whilst I did not buy anything the hot food (paninis or sandwiches I think) smelt very nice.
Gambling on Easyjet
After food was sold the staff then went around offering to sell scratch cards. Yes, gambling on a plane. The announcer said that there is a 1 in 6 chance of winning and they’ve seen a few thousand pound winners.
This was followed by a shop in a trolley, or their equivalent of Duty Free.
The future is bright, the future is orange
The décor of the plane was true Easyjet style, lots of orange! It was mainly a combination of neutral grey and orange. Even the very compact toilet had orange décor.
In-flight entertainment on Easyjet
With no Easyjet provided entertainment I was able to pass some of the time reading the in-flight magazine. This was a real bumper magazine with over 200 pages! Don’t worry it was mostly editorial rather than adverts and provided some reviews of locations.
The magazine also revealed some details of what is known as “EasyJet Plus”. From what I could gather they don’t have a frequent flyer scheme but a paid subscription scheme instead. (I don’t know how much the annual fee is.) If you opt in you can receive:-
- free upfront or extra legroom seat (sounds interesting to me)
- dedicated check-in (not sure how relevant this will be with a move to all online check-in)
- Speedy Boarding
- Membership benefits (although these were not specified in the article)
Since this was my first ever flight with Easyjet I’m not sure it is worth my while joining.
Once we landed at Hamburg we seemed to disembark very quickly indeed. In virtually no time the door was opened and we were told we could leave. No faffing about with paperwork like the big airlines do.
This was then tempered with around a 15 minute wait for luggage, however I view this as an airport as opposed to an airline area of responsibility.
Summary of my review of Easyjet
As a frequent international business traveller my first flight with the discount airline Easyjet was not as bad as feared. The online check-in did speed up the arrival process. This was then countered with no queue jumping through security. (I appreciate that I have to wait my turn, it is just that when you go through airports as often as I do the chance to Fast Track is a big plus.)
No access to a lounge no complimentary food on board meant that I had to buy lunch due to a long day of travel. I see this as countered with the discount airline fair which is acceptable for a private traveller and a good deal.
I was fortunate with my leg room yet I would not have liked to sit in any of the rows behind me.
Staff were pleasant and I was not hit with any unexpected charges. Thank God I wasn’t flying with Ryanair.
That completes my review of Easyjet. I can honestly say that I would be comfortable to fly with Easyjet in the future, for short haul flights. Whilst I fly on business I will always prefer the full fare carriers but Easyjet are certainly worth my consideration.