From the name of the airline, one might expect to arrive at his destination without any hang-ups, headaches or unreasonable amounts of turbulence. Let’s just say that I had a crash course (no pun intended) in Easy Jet procedure 101.
Knowing full well that Easy Jet is a budget airline, I honestly didn’t expect much in the way of comfy pillows and online cuisine with local wine pairings, but I guess I expected more than I got.
On one of our recent trips, Chris and I had to book a flight back to Budapest, and Easy Jet offered the most competitive rates; so we opted for their cheapest option and clicked “no thank you” when offered the Speedy Boarding upgrade. We’re fairly conscientious and light travelers; you know, the people who search for the cheapest rate, only fly economy, forget about travel insurance and try to pack the largest carryon possible so as to avoid baggage check-in fees. Yeah, that’s us – and I think we are becoming the norm when it comes to young travelers because it seemed that the plane was full of people of the same mindset. Maybe you have to be just a little bit crazy to fly airlines like Easy Jet.
So our adventure started in the airport “holding area.” I had never seen anything like it; basically, we didn’t have an assigned gate, so we were stuffed into a waiting area with the rest of the anxious Easy Jet flyers. Conveniently, the “holding area” was adjacent to the duty free shops, so Chris and I decided to poke around the stores while keeping an attentive eye on the monitors that would proclaim which direction we should run to catch our flight. I started feeling uneasy fifteen minutes before our departure time when we were still without a gate assignment. Just then the monitors changed, our gate was revealed, and the “holding area” erupted into a steady stream of people moving in the same direction.
No one had seat assignments, so it was a race – or rather a cattle charge - for a seat and overhead space for an oversized carryon. I think I mooed at Chris once while we were being shoved and stepped on in line. He gave me a knowing smile and all we could do was laugh at how unorganized and ridiculous the whole process seemed.
Once we showed the gate attendant that we had indeed paid for the flight, we were herded into yet another “holding area” to await the final race. Chris and I felt confident in the middle of the pack; we would be able to find seats next to each other and hopefully find nearby space for our luggage. The “holding area” steadily filled up but the gate attendant was not happy with our lines. She kept shouting at us to move forward, and had Easy Jet allowed her a cattle prod, she would have used it on us. People from the back of the line started filling in the spaces towards the front, and everyone tried to push forward as much as possible.
“Lana – they are bringing two staircases to the plane for boarding, one at the front, and one at the back. Let’s move towards the back one, then we can sit towards the back and try to avoid the rush of people.”
“Great idea honey – I like how you think. Always one step ahead of the pack.”
Suddenly the doors opened, but ONLY for the savvy passengers who had pre-purchased the Speedy Boarding upgrade. We all looked on in envy as they climbed the first set of stairs and quickly boarded the plane. Then to our dismay, the gate agent closed off the front entrance that they had just disappeared into, leaving us with the rear of the plane as our only option. The gate agent motioned to us, and everyone in the “holding area” made a mad dash to be the first to get on the plane. We walked quickly, confidently maintaining our middle-of-the-pack advantage. Boarding was slow and unorganized and just as we were getting to the bottom of the rear staircase, the gate agent opened the front staircase again. Half of the line behind us turned around and ran over each other to get to the empty gate at the front of the plane. Chris and I had gone from being in the middle, to being the very last people to board.
We were lucky enough to find two seats next to each other in the last row, but finding overhead space was the issue. People were so inconsiderate, placing purses and small shopping bags in the overhead bins when they could have easily been placed on the floor at their feet. The flight attendants kept urging people to help out, move your small items, make space, but their pleas did nothing to move people to action. Poor Chris walked to the front of the plane before he could find a space for my carryon. We shoved his oversized computer bag under my feet and hid it from the flight attendants as they did their final safety checks.
We got to Budapest without so much as an onboard drink and salty peanuts, but we were home safe and sound - oversized carryons and all. Maybe a safe trip is all that I should ever expect from Easy Jet from here on out! And maybe next time we will purchase those Speedy Boarding upgrades.
You really get what you pay for, and in the case of Easy Jet, you don’t get very much.
Have you ever flown Easy Jet? If so, I would love to hear your comments after reading this post. Do you recommend any other budget airlines above Easy Jet - or are the all sort of the same?