As a professional traveller the prospect of flying with a discount carrier is not one I tend to relish. My dislike of my sole experience with Ryanair in 2003 was enough to put me off for life. However more recently I’ve come to experience easyjet and they seem very acceptable for short haul trips. Now it is time to provide my review of Jet2 also known as Jet2.com.
On planning a recent trip it was clear that in terms of direct flights, timing and pricing one flight was screaming out of the screen “Pick me! Pick me!” Yes, the Jet2 flight from Manchester to Pisa was winning hands down on these criteria. I’d heard good things from others so now was surely time for me to try for myself.
A flight time of 8:30am is always going to mean a bad start for the day for me. Arising before 4am so I can take the car journey to an airport roughly 2 hours away.
I know some people leave things last minute yet I’m always one who knows that you need to be at the airport in plenty of time, especially when boarding gates and check-in time restrictions are uncompromising.
I noted on my booking that it stated “You must check in online and print off your boarding passes”. This is something which was relatively easy to do as long as I had my passport details handy. I was also able to print my inbound, as well as outbound boarding pass in the same go. Thankfully none of this Ryanair nonsense where you strictly can’t print boarding passes more than 7 days before the day of the flight.
On arriving at the airport, Jet2 fly from Terminal 1 at Manchester Airport, signs were clearly showing that Jet2 don’t check in at the main hall. You have to take a lift down one floor and go to a Jet2 only check in area.
On arriving you could see why. Long queues were everywhere. It seems that many Jet2 flights were taking off in a short time period this morning.
It was immediately a moment of thinking is this a professional traveller’s nightmare? Long queues of holiday makers in the height of summer. Half of them don’t really know what they are meant to do, whilst couples have domestic arguments for all to see. Kids play around and are not controlled by parents.
That is the fear I had based on prior experience. Thankfully very little of the above happened. One couple did have quite a vocal dispute over the fact that he’d forgotten to bring his phone (a blessing in disguise?). Other than that, apart from queuing for maybe 20+ minutes there was little incident.
After late arrivers were called to proceed to the front because their check-in / bag drop was closing I arrived at the front of the queue. A very smiley and polite uniformed lady pointed me to the next available desk and wished me “Have a nice holiday”; hmm, if only she knew.
It was quite a contrast though going from this delightful, cheery lady to my check in counter agent, Mike. He wore the company badge which said “Happy to help” but it is all lies, I’m telling you. Lies, lies, lies.
As I greeted Mike with a “Good morning” and informed him of my destination he didn’t even acknowledge me back. He took my passport and boarding pass and tinkered away on his computer with a drawn out, upside down smile.
Briefly he spoke, asking if I had any prohibited items in my luggage.
Once my luggage was tagged I did have a verbal send off. Mike handed back my passport with a boarding pass and luggage tag, whilst directing me towards the sign pointing to “Departures”. I politely thanked him for this time but restrained from expressing my joy at his warmth and high quality service.
The airport security lines were surprisingly short. Much to my relief.
I did however wonder about some of the security staff and the service they provided. Little point in me moaning about it here since they are nothing to do with Jet2 and are employees of the airport and the security services.
Once through you are greeted with the joy of Terminal 1. Like many modern airports you have to do the obligatory walk through the primary Duty Free shop. A surefire way to be stuck behind dithering strollers.
I very rarely use Duty Free for purchases so I just want to get through as quick as possible. I also don’t want to be approached by sales assistants trying to spray me with the fragrance of the month.
Once through you are in the main terminal waiting area.
Jet2 doesn’t offer a Fast Track/Speedy Board process through security, nor do they offer a Business Class cabin. As a result you’ll have to wait in the terminal area unless you buy a pass to an airport lounge.
At first you don’t know the gate for your flight. You are asked to wait in the terminal. You have to keep an eye on the flight information monitors to see which gate you’ll fly from. I actually looked at the screen around 45 minutes before departure time (based on my experiences with easyjet) and I could see the gate my flight was allocated to gate 21. Nothing was announced about boarding.
Yet within the few minutes it took me to walk to the gate I could see the waiting area was virtually empty; a lot of people had boarded already.
This was actually quite nice to now board with a minimal queue, no queue jumpers and minimal fuss.
At Manchester airport we were able to walk down a jet bridge to the aircraft which is generally a bonus for a discount carrier flight. (On arriving at Pisa you have to take a shuttle bus to the terminal, however these were prompt.)
As I boarded I was greeted with the sight of bright coloured seating, red and grey. Clearly fancy colour designs had been applied inside this Boeing 737-300.
As I took my seat I found it reasonable in comfort. I was on a flight which take just over 2 hours and there was no sign that I would be getting any pains in the small of my back as you do with many carriers.
The legroom was reasonable too. There is an option at the baggage drop counters to pay for more leg room if you wanted a front row or emergency exit seat.
There were 2 aspects of the seat which a few people may not like. Firstly the head rest was not adjustable. So the seat was in fact a little too short for me. If I was to rest my head against the back of the seat I wouldn’t be able to fully rest my head. This seems like a perfect cue a high quality neck pillow.
Secondly the seat wouldn’t recline, not one bit. There are of course pros and cons to this. No niggling problems with the person in front leaning into your lap. However on the counter side, I was pretty darn tired from such an early start and some snooze time would benefit from a little incline.
Added to this I was also in an aisle seat. I’d noticed coming down the aisle that if I didn’t carry my roller bag then the feet of people already sat down would get in the way. At first I saw it as people not keeping their feet in their seating area, which was true. However once sat on the flight and keeping my elbows inside my seat area I was still often knocked by people and staff walking up and down. Quite annoying if I’m honest.
The seat pocket in front had the typical inflight magazine. I wouldn’t say it was anything special and could occupy your time for 5-10 minutes if you were desperate for a read. Articles included a feature story on Paloma Faith (not someone I’m interested in) and how to blag your way into Cannes (why not). There was also an article on the reunion of S Club7 which was pretty good. After all “there ain’t no party like an S Club party”!
Also, never to miss an opportunity there was a Jet2 Holidays magazine too. This was certainly interesting with a range of holidays from 7 nights self catering in Kefalonia from £299 per person to all inclusive holidays – like Benidorm 7 nights from £439 per person. I might have to check out the Jet2 Holidays website in future for some good deals.
This flight took a little over 2 hours so I did pay a visit to the toilet. Tiny is barely the start of it. It was certainly cramped. (If anyone is considering the mile high club with Jet2 then you’ll either love the tight space or risk pulling an injury.) Just to emphasis how tight it was, as I was sat down it was noticeable that leg room was a little bit less than it was at my seat.
The inside of the toilet door had a rather bizarre and funky design. That was probably the only plus point, although the lavatory on the plane did seem to have a pretty effective flush mechanism.
The cabin crew on board I thought were fairly business like. They got on with the tasks in hand, selling refreshments, duty free and scratch cards (just like easyjet). Whilst polite I must admit that of UK airlines I’ve always found British Airways staff to be the most sincere and warm in their greetings. Jet2 certainly beat my experiences with Ryanair and were coming close to the sincerity I find with easyjet staff.
The plane itself looked very fancy and modern. However it did seem to make a lot of noises, squeaking, screeching and so on. More than I’d normally expect so I wonder if the aircraft was not as new as it appears.
Also in fine weather we had one heck of a bouncy landing, thanks captain.
Review of Jet2 – final opinion
Overall I’d say my Jet2 experience was a real mix of good and bad. I’d probably score it:-
Comfort 3 out of 5
Cleanliness 5 out of 5
Staff courtesy 3 out of 5
Value for money 5 out of 5 (it is a discount airline after all)
Jet2 is aimed at the holiday traveller and appears to service this market well. They also appear to fly to airports close or at the destination you want to get to, rather than 20-30 miles away at some regional nobody has heard of.
They also offer a pretty decent luggage allowance for a discount carrier. On Jet2 the hand luggage allowance is up to 10kg with one piece and the checked bag allowance is up to 22kg before charges.
As a business traveller it is maybe not an airline I’d want to use frequently. Yet as a holiday maker I’d certainly consider them for 1-2 trips a year. I do think easyjet do have the edge over them though.