No motorway driving today – or, yes there will be but on a motorway out of Tehran, Iran without any reliable internet. So, instead, while I do have internet – here’s a write-up on a flight from this weekend.
To be honest, the preconceived notions you may have about flying low-cost airlines all hold true :
- very tight seat pitch: check
- everything other than flying from A to B costing extra: check
- delays and other irregularities not resolved in favour of passengers but of costs: check
Case in point: in an Easyjet home turf airport, we got a message some six hours before our flight that we would have a delay of an hour. According to the crew on our flight when it finally did take place, this was due to late incoming aircraft from Corfu, due to thunderstorms there.
All that is fine and understandable and clearly force majeure and thus not fault of EasyJet. Except for, of course, not trying to juggle things (read: planes) around so as to mitigate the problem and get people on the way on time. Because that obviously might actually – cough, cough – cost some money.
And you didn’t pay for that! So the hour’s delay – live with it.
Then we had a second set of delays due to a massive IT failure in Gatwick – apparently hitting both North and South terminals and closing down WiFi, boarding screens, pay terminals, the works. That is not a fault of EasyJet, fair enough. What it did was add to the delay – the boarding process partly failed so gate agents had to walk up and down the aisle, verifying passengers’ identities. Sigh.
The in flight service? It’s fine, I guess. As long as you find 3€ for coffee fine or 12€ for a pre-packed sandwich or similar plus a drink and a pack of crisps ok. Quality- and quantity-wise, the meal and drinks we had at the airport quite surely matched that – with something to spare.
I’m tempted to compare the discount airline experience with another type of business – discount supermarkets. We have one in my wee hometown and it has actually surprised me considerably – actually annoyed me a bit. See, I expected it to be just another discount experience: generally an untidy mess, not quite enough manning to keep queues short, and all that. But this one? Well laid out, light and welcoming, very pleasant staff who’re eager to help. Altogether an ok shopping experience.
What I am trying to say with this is that with the right mindset, a low cost experience can be made a good one. But in the case of EasyJet et al, it seems that the aim is more like a previous boss of mine once speculated: “it seems that they actually design the customer experience to actively make you aware that you are flying discount. It’s not meant to be good at all.”
Despite my knees touching the seat in front of me, I did catch some sleep on the way to Copenhagen. Which was good in more ways than one – I only had a 7-hour turnaround so any sleep counted and it made the flight pass mercyfully quick.
Looking at it, the only thing that counts on the plus side on this one is that we got from A to B. Which, I guess, is something. But not something I’d give out any cobblestones for.
PS: Why did we fly them, then? Availability of tickets that matched our long-weekend, fair and simple.
Photo by me