When I say to people that I am taking a flight with easyJet, there are two very distinct reactions.
- Reaction 1 – Nose wrinkles as if a bad smell has entered the room, “Oh, sleazyjet!”.
- Reaction 2 – Slight surprise followed by a genuine smile, “Oh ok”.
It seems that easyJet has its fans and it’s detractors and ne’er the two shall meet.
In 2006 a seemingly eccentric, Greek Cypriot businessman named Stelios Haji-Ioannou (or just Stelios in his adverts) set up a low cost carrier that was very orange. It originally flew between London Luton and Scotland before expanding all over Europe. It now flies to over 30 countries, as far away as Israel. London Luton, a small airport North of London, is its hub.
So Why easyJet?
There are several very happy days in my year, that I like to call “easyJet Thursdays”! This is when easyJet open booking for the next alloted time period. Its like when a designer reveals their new collection (spring/summer 2018 for example). This always happens, as the name would suggest, on a Thursday and it’s on this day that bargains are to be had.
As well as flying to the location i wanted, I also think that they do a slightly better job than their nearest competitors. Ryanair is fine but can be quite stressful to pack for (their hand luggage isn’t very generous). You can also get a good deal on British Airways European routes but they have stopped providing food and drin, and it’s a whopping €22 to pick your seat, even at check in.
Sitting on a runway, on an entirely different flight, I decided to get us a flight. I booked a one way ticket from Split, Croatia for the pleasingly low price of £35. We had time off in June and I knew I wanted to visit the Balkans. We didn’t know the time span of the holiday yet so the one way seemed like a good plan.
I have the easyJet mobile app and it is surprisingly great. It’s very easy to book with, boasting a simple design and I find it very intuitive. You can also manage your booking and get a mobile boarding pass.
Fast forward to early May and we realised we really needed to book our flight out to the Balkans. We decided to fly to Dubrovnik and started to search flight prices. easyJet came up with a price around £70. Cheap as that was, we decided to make it even cheaper. We used our Sainsburys Nectar points and it made the flight completely free. That’s ten years of brand loyalty which has finally paid off!
Our trip was a two week jaunt and so I decided to treat us to an extra carry on bag each. This allows you one regular hand luggage bag (56x45x25cm at any weight) and then one personal item to go under the seat in front (45x36x20cm). It also comes with a seat in the first few rows of the plane (which you can pick in advance) and Speedy Boarding. This means you can board first. We are SO fancy!
Again, I used the easyJet app to check in and it was fast and easy.
The Airport Experience
We were flying from London Stansted Airport, in which Easyjet only has a small presence. Stansted is the hub for their main rival, Ryanair. The check in area (which we didn’t actually use) was small, cramped even but the hand luggage cages gave us a chance to test our backpacks and make sure we wouldn’t have a problem at the gate. The good thing about the Easyjet colours of orange and white, is that you can spot them a mile off against a sea of red and blue airlines.
The gate was set up with two queues, one for Speedy Boarding, the other for the remaining passengers. We were at the head of the Speedy Boarding queue and so were the first to be scanned through. They took a quick look at our bags surreptitiously but we weren’t asked to place them in the cage. (We have noticed that budget airlines are much hotter on this on flights back to the UK so watch your souvenir shopping!)
Although there are jet bridges, we took an escalator and some stairs down to the ramp level and walked across the tarmac to the boarding stairs. This doesn’t seem so bad on a nice summer’s day, and when you are first in the queue. however, it can be utterly miserable in winter, or in the rain, when you are stuck in a queue on the stairs.
The inside of the plane looked a little worse for wear. Many of their planes must be 15 or so years old and these small Airbuses work extremely hard. The lining on the back of the seat in front was coming away.
The plastic elements of the plane are a standard light beige, unexciting but inoffensive. The pattern on the chairs is designed to hide a multitude of sins but is reminiscent of dodgy train seat covers. The headrests have adverts on which, if nothing else, give you something to read. There is a standard size tray table and a seatback pocket which has a duty free catalogue, the “Bistro” menu booklet and the laminated safety card.
As with most budget airlines, leg room is something that is only available for the chosen few who pay to sit in seat 1ABC by the exit allowing them stretch out. Seat pitch is 29 inches. This doesn’t normally bother me being a stumpy 5ft tall, but I dropped my lip balm and couldn’t squeeze enough of myself between the seats to retrieve it (with a sleeping husband blocking me on one side and a window on the other). I had to interrupt the canoodling couple behind so that they could pick it up for me.
Karl’s seat had a random seat cover on it which seemed more than a little suspicious to me. Was the need to operate a super-fast turnaround stopping the seat being cleaned properly?
I have found the duty free on Easyjet to be surisingly good (I got a great deal on my wedding perfume on our little pre-moon trip to Copenhagen). On this flight they were offering an additional 20% off all items which made them 36% off the full high street price.
No food or drink items are provided in the price so you have two options:
A – Buy your snacks on board at an inflated price. It is a bit more expensive but they do have quite decent selection of hot and cold sandwiches (including a fancy new falafel wrap) as well as posh ramen noodles. They also have crisps and sweets, or the healthier fruits and nuts. Finally, there is good selection of soft drinks or alcohol. I was pleasantly surprised to see mini bottles of prosecco and cans of rekordalig as well the usual wine and beer offerings.
B – The budget travellers friend, buy your snacks before you board. We favour a Boots meal deal.
No inflight hygiene kit is provided on easyJet but none of their flights are too long so I’m sure you’ll cope. The bathroom on this aircraft is very tight and so changing or washing may be an impossibility without a yoga body anyway. There is soap and water but little else to mention in the toilet.
The easyJet uniform has definitely been improved and so they are all very smartly turned out. They seemed very friendly, something that isn’t always true on low cost carriers. They even smiled when collecting everyone’s rubbish. A mum came to wait for the bathroom with her six month old baby and she got a really lovely fuss made of her. We had Maria Anna, Emma and Karen and the First Officer who was making announcements was called Alex.
No bumps came along to disturb our flight so we ate in peace and slept a little. It was quite a cold plane and so I am glad I was still in my cold weather gear from the UK. I felt for the keen beans in their maxi dresses and man vests.
The views on the descent to Dubrovnik were glorious. We skirted the Dalmatian coast, the sea was deep blue and rocky cliffs looked startling and dramatic against it. Unfortunately, this was the point Mr Fluskey decided to get his nap in so he missed the whole thing. Pleasingly we landed ten minutes early.
I think that when you book a low cost flight, you need to know what you are getting (or aren’t) in advance. My motto is, it’s just a coach, but in the sky, and then I don’t expect any more. easyJet are a good option, not disguising their extra charges until the last second, and having a generous hand luggage allowance. They also win big brownie points for their brilliant mobile app. I will definitely fly them again (and not just because I need to get home).
That app that I keep raving about can be found here:
If you are using a laptop/PC the you’ll want to get into the website:
Luton, Gatwick and Stansted airports (as well as a few European reports) served by easyJet can be reached by Easybus. Tickets can be purchased for as little as £2 and they are a little flexible. You can use them on the buses and hour before and after your booked time slot subject to space. This means if your journey goes too well, or you are delayed you still have a chance to squeeze on. The website is here.
If you intend to take any more than your one piece of hand luggage you have two options. Both of these I strongly advise you to do ahead of time.
1 – Extra Leg Rrom or Up Front seating. This costs a bit extra but allows you that extra handbag/laptop bag/personal item. If you choose to check this bag in (maybe you bought some fancy wine during your trip) I was sent an email which allowed me to book that for just £4 extra. You can also have this if you are a easyJet PLUS customer or have FLEXI fare.
2 – Hold Item. This is so much cheaper when booked in advance online. Easyjet offers a 20kg weight allowance with extra weight purchasable in 3kg units up 32kg.