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Easyjet Allocated Seating Trial

 

I think that most of us would say that budget air travel has become more stressful and not so "budget" in recent years. In fact I remember pre Ryanair, Easyjet and Germanwings when a flight to Aarhus with SAS was between £150 – £200 return, and by the time you load on your luggage, admin, web check-in charges, credit card fees, allocated seat, a snack on board your flight and the ridiculous and patronising fines put in place for forgetting or losing the print out for your boarding pass, we come fairly close to that figure anyway. In fact, quickly checking, a return flight to Aarhus on Ryanair on Aug 24th returning 27th (2012) with one bag came out at £218.78. But for me, the real difference between the likes of SAS or BA to the “budget” airlines of today is not the in-flight food, in fact I can do well without it, for me I miss the human side. I miss the ability to queue calmly at the gate rather than watching grown men and women elbowing and plotting for pole position, much like school children fighting their way to the front of the lunch queue. I miss the reassurance of arriving at the airport thinking everything is paid and organised and all I need to do is get on the plane and enjoy my trip.

I had feared those days had gone forever, until I recently booked some flights with Easyjet.

I had selected my flights as usual and I was waiting for the intrusive barrage of additional services that were due to be sold to me when I noticed something very odd. On the screen in front of me was a message saying that with my flight for 5 from Luton to Malaga, twas part of a trial period  for allocated seating. For £3 I could select a seat (or seats) of my choice, and if I chose not to pay, I would automatically be allocated seats free of charge. I chose not to pay.

Now, this may seem like a small luxury in the world of budget flight, but don't under estimate its significance to your flight.

Just telling my wife and kids that our Easyjet flight had allocated seating was quite genuinely enough to put a smile on their faces. And then came that magic moment during online check in when the allocated seats came up, 11A through to 11E out and 12A through to 12E return. We now knew that we would be avoiding that free-for-all stampede from the gate to the planes that we could relax, not just at the gate, but from the point that we made the booking, to planning our journey, to driving to the airport, to queuing to check-in our hold luggage. And just as (or more) importantly, we could enjoy our stay without worrying about the return flight.

With my WhichHoliday.TV hat on, I was of course very interested to see if this made a difference during boarding. And the answer is "undoubtedly", there was less panic, there was no undignified pushing and queue jumping and most importantly, everyone was in their seats and ready to go more quickly than I had seen in some time. I am sure this was due to people knowing where they should be along with the willingness to give way and to help fellow passengers. This surely helps the airline, after all, order and organisation must be more efficient than chaos.

I might be a little dramatic in my wording, but this is truly a brilliant move and if this trial turns into a permanent feature, then I would like to congratulate Easyjet. I take an average of 15 European flights a year (excl. return) for business and pleasure and I or one will select any flight where there's allocated seating or I can choose the seat.

Easyjet have selected 16 routes at this stage to trial including Luton to Malaga, Zurich and Charles de Gaulle. You can find the full list here. 

I believe Easyjet could be taking a step towards a more civilised, a more comfortable and most definitely a less stressful way of serving their customers, and I hope their trial for allocated seating is a success. You never know, Easyjet could be taking a considerable step to helping us feel just a little more human when we fly.   

Dave H – WhichHoliday.TV

 

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