Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Low cost is high hassle

This blog is being written from the departure lounge at London Stansted Airport where my easyJet flight to Munich has been delayed by two hours – our 08:05 is now not expected to leave before 10:00. Why am I flying EZ instead of BA or LH out of Heathrow? Simple - it was cheap. The legacy carriers wanted £300-400 for a day trip return ticket booked close in date….EasyJet only charged £180. I am regretting my decision.

The delay has just about destroyed my day filming trip in Munich. There is no-one from EasyJet on the airside of check-in to help with re-booking of flights, questions about cancellations, or indeed any question from EasyJet. You just get referred to a telephone.

If I want to call them up to discuss my options it’s a premium priced call at £1 ($2 per minute). Or I have to log in to the internet and pay another £10 for the wi-fi privilege.

This early morning departure from London to Munich is probably the closest this airline comes to a business flight. Looking around me, most of the passengers are suited and going on business and feeling as disgruntled as myself. If EasyJet wishes to cultivate the business passenger it is going to have to do more in terms of its airport service than this!

We know that some low cost carriers are a truly horrible experience, and I won’t subject myself or my staff to their rudeness, but EasyJet has never been in this category.

Since low cost carriers are now the dominant force in European aviation and an increasing part of business travel, they should recognise that those of us taking off on business need better support, help and advice when things go wrong. The low-cost airline that gets this truly right will beat the cheapest option every single time!

Richard, as someone who flies frequently from the UK using "budget airlines" I have never had any problems with them in over 5 years.

Although I usually do not use EZ JET because I really do not find them to be a true "budget airline." They are always the highest priced on all of my searches.

It is true that rarely is EZ more expensive than the upper echelon airlines but I find the price difference so small that I would prefer to use one of the "expensive airlines" from my home airport of Birmingham than trek to one of the remote locations such as East Midlands, Luton or Stansted. Not to mention the flyer miles.

I would love if you could investigate the lack of budget flights from BHX (B'ham.) Ryan Air only has one flight to Dublin, EZ JET no where to be seen, and the other "budget airlines" have a handful of routes to destinations in strange places.

Is it something with the administration at the Birmingham airport?

I hope to bump into you one these days at the airport. Love the show!!

John in Birmingham UK

Even though you knew the cheap prices were tempting :)
There has to be a trade off - business traveller and low cost airline are mutually exclusive. I certainly would not rely on a cheap airline to get me anywhere on time. If your business is urgent and time limited, use the airline that has the most frequent service and go one flight earlier than you need.

If cost is the most important criterion, then make sure your schedule is flexible.

There's always the bizjet...

just a day filmimg trip to Munich? Let me assure you, Munich is worth at least one nights stay. Bet you know...

Such overnight stay would also purport that you may be be more flexible on fares, airlines, departure times etc...


Chris from Munich.

I dont think its fair that you judge an airline based on a one off experience. I know you may be used to constantly flying Business Class, and you are paying for what you get. By flying easyjet, you get what you are paying for, which is getting from A to B at a reasonable price and on time.

Sometimes there might be delays, but these are usually out of easyjet's control. From my experience flying easyjet over the last 2 years, it is always on time. Swiss clock style. Their entire business model is based on very quick turnarounds, moving the planes very quickly. They also fly from less busy airports, meaning less delays. Flying from heathrow, I have experienced a lot more delays, and even once you get on the plane, you sometimes have to wait ages with the plane queued up on the runway.

I would encourage you to try flying easyjet again and base your judgment on more than just 1 flight.

Carl from Madrid
I fly Easy Jet frequently and usually all goes ok, but I usually expect small delays - worth the difference in price. However, I agree with you that when things go very wrong it is a very difficult experience with Easy Jet - whether you are flying for business or pleasure. I was flying from Gatwick to Barcelona and a light snow began to fall delaying most flights. Four Easy Jet flights were delayed. While all the other airlines and flights took off eventually Easy Jet kept all four flights waiting until 11:30 pm before finally cancelling all of them at the same time. By the time I exited there was a line of at least 400 people waiting to rebook. At 12 midnight promptly, and after helping only about 20 people, Easy Jet announced they were closing for the evening and that all flights were booked for the next day. We would need to go online or wait until the next day to book something with no idea when we might be able to actually fly. The experience was extremely frustrating with Easy Jet giving no help at all the hundreds of passengers stranded. Most of us ended up booking expensive flights on other airlines. Since this experience, I have to admit I avoid Easy Jet when traveling for business.
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