Checked-in at Luton airport (LTN) around 40 minutes prior to departure (check-in deadline for easyJet flights has now dropped to 30 minutes, perhaps to placate the business travellers that frequent certain easyJet flights.) I arrived late due to the fact that I was travelling on a Staff ticket (no standbys or IDs, we get confirmed seats, every time) and the check-in agents will always pre-board staff as a matter of courtesy.
Although I received a purple boarding card (different colours for different routes) with ‘126’ printed on it, the agent always phones ahead to let the gate agent know that I will be jumping to the front of the queue.
A fairly old and knackered 737 was assigned to the route today, G – IGOG. Boarding started as usual in strict order of boarding card number (although I know this system is totally ignored at other easyJet stations, which I think is a real shame.) I said a quick ‘hello’ to the gate agent and then walked across the ramp to our little orange jet. Both rear and forward doors were open, but being ahead of everyone else, I decided that I was going to be flying in 1A today (if I can’t afford First Class, dreaming doesn’t cost a penny ).
I knew the 3 cabin crew straight away, the Senior that greeted me at door 1L was called Jan, she is one VERY funny, but very OLD lady. She’s been flying for 35 years, and has worked for just about every airline you can think of, including doing some HAJ flights to Saudi Arabia and delivering 3 babies during the course of her professional life (!) She has an excellent, if somewhat dirty sense of humour, and she certainly looks like she’s been smoking since her teens….
The other two FAs were both guys I knew, one of them was actually based at ORY in France, but was operating some flights from the UK for a while.
Although the aircraft looked fairly smart and clean on the outside, on the inside it was starting to show its age. The dark blue seat fabric hasn’t changed since the airline took over Go, and there are some black marks on parts of the cabin panelling. In addition, the aircraft has 2 toilets at the rear of the aircraft, whereas easyJet has only configured its own aircraft with 1 at the rear, 1 at the front.
This was the first sector of the day for the crew (I guess it was obvious from their enthusiasm ), but they were due to fly to BUD, than straight back to LTN, then off to Aberdeen (ABZ), then straight back again….that is a long day made longer by having to complete all the turnaround duties repeatedly. Oh the joys of working for a low-cost airline….these airlines really work you to the bone!
The majority of passengers coming aboard were British, reasonably well-off Daily Telegraph readers of the middle class perhaps coming to Budapest for a lazy weekend after reading about the city and the new services in the Travel sections of newspapers, magazines etc. (eastern Europe is in fashion here in Britain). And why not? It’s cheap, and the girls are nicer…
Anyway, before push-back our Captain introduced himself, this guy was ex-SAS (knew him) and we had an Australian FO (it seems easyJet are soaking up an excess of unemployed pilots from all over Europe and Australasia!) Flight time was set to be 1 hr 50 mins, that’s pretty good going for a -300, and we would be helped along by some very nice tailwinds.
After doors were shut, Jan, our Senior crewmember, introduced herself in her usual humorous way “Ladies & Gents, boys and Girls and anyone else, welcome aboard, my name is Jan, I’m your Wagon Dragon on today’s flight to Budapest, joining me in the back are our two trolley-dollies, David and Brian”.
As we were pushed-back, one of the guys read out the safety demo from the back whilst Jan and the No.3 did their little performance.
After that, it was a fairly long take-off to the west, right over Luton town, then a sharp turn to head eastwards, towards the plains of Europe. About 10 minutes from take-off, the crew were released, and magazines were distributed from rows 1 and 12. Although I find the easyJet magazine a bit dull, it does have a very good guides section, and I flicked through the sights to see in Budapest, transport options etc.
After about 20 minutes, Jan came round with the “easyKiosk” service – it’s the usual snacks/drinks for sale that you find on most low-cost airlines these days (and dare I say some full-service airlines now). My own opinion even though I sell these things myself to the passengers, is that all items are 1) Overpriced 2) Low quality. I brought my own coffee from the Costa coffee shop at LTN, and I was going to wait until arriving in Hungary before eating anything. Nevertheless, about 50% of passengers were purchasing food & drinks, so I estimate the airline made about £200 on this flight (believe me, that is what all those drinks & snacks add up to…
Because the aircraft was old, the toilets didn’t have those vacuum pumps installed that you see on most modern aircraft today. This can be a problem for quite a few reasons, not least the smell…and I have to say that the forward toilet was VERY smelly on this plane. I mentioned this to Jan, who sprayed some air freshener inside. Unfortunately, these things don’t offer a permanent fix to the problem. It’s a shame we’re still stuck with these old planes whilst other bases get the new Airbus jets.
The remainder of the flight passed fairly uneventfully to be honest. A quick second round of drinks and snacks were offered before the Captain asked the crew to prepare the cabin for arrival.
The weather down in Budapest was marvellous, the region around the airport is fairly flat, and reminded me of the area around CDG. Landing at Budapest was lovely and smooth, although I believe the perfect weather conditions helped!
There is nothing to mark out BUD as unique in any way; it’s fairly small, and looks like a typical, small airport really. I saw the usual bunch of Malev equipment, plus a Germanwings A319, BA 757, KLM 737-400, Air Berlin Fokker 70 (?), and an Austrian Arrows Dash 8.
We eventually parked next to the BA 757, which promptly departed soon after we’d come to a stop.
All in all, the usual easyJet product really: simple, basic A-B travel, on-time and with friendly and very funny crews on this particular flight. A nice choice from the many different options to take from London airports. (Wizz Air, Malev, Skyeurope & BA)
Skymonster From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 2, posted (8 years 10 months 1 week 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 3741 times:
I arrived late due to the fact that I was travelling on a Staff ticket (no standbys or IDs, we get confirmed seats, every time) and the check-in agents will always pre-board staff as a matter of courtesy.
Strange... On most airlines that have a proper attitude to customer service, staff are always borded LAST as a matter of courtesy to the passengers who pay the staff's wages - another reason not to fly a low-fare operator!
DoorsToManual From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 3, posted (8 years 10 months 1 week 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 3727 times:
Hi Ba319, have applied to a few already, with luck I'll soon be enjoying a change of scenery!
Andy, since we have confirmed seats, and since there is not likely to be a large number of staff travelling on a given flight, I don't think pre-boarding one or two airline employees makes an awful lot of difference.
As for not flying a low-fare operator, that's your decision and I'll respect it.
Skymonster From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 4, posted (8 years 10 months 1 week 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 3692 times:
Having worked for various airlines for 11 years in the past and travelled many times, firm seat or standby, it was always very much a matter of courtesy that we let revenue passengers board first. I'd have thought that, with Easy's policy of effectively allowing each passenger to choose their own seat from those unoccupied at the time they board, it was even more so a matter of courtesy to allow revenue passengers to have first choice. Maybe I just lived in an era when the paying customer came first - maybe you'll find that if you get that job with another carrier (and good luck to you with that) you'll find they have a different attitude.
Bubbinski From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 159 posts, RR: 0 Reply 5, posted (8 years 10 months 1 week 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 3682 times:
Very good report, thanks for sharing. As someone who flies on Southwest a lot here in the States it was fascinating to read a trip report from someone flying on a European low cost carrier. So Easyjet uses differently colored cards with numbers for groups of pax, no assigned seating? Southwest used to use colored cards with numbers and I miss them...now we get white cards with "A" "B" or "C". Also interesting to note that Easyjet has a "buy on board" program.....a number of carriers in the U.S. are offering "buy on board" (DL and HP are the ones I know about) and I've heard less than glowing things about it (stale food, overpriced)....if a carrier is going to do buy on board they need to at least keep the food fresh and tasty, and plentiful. (Maybe have a bakery at the airport??).
Just curious, does Easyjet have a frequent flier program like WN's Rapid Rewards?
Ndebele From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 2895 posts, RR: 25 Reply 6, posted (8 years 10 months 1 week 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 3671 times:
a well-written report, and I found it interesting to read the "insider" details about Easyjet's cabin, service, and of course your honest statement about easyKiosk.
I don't know exactly what to say about pre-boarding for staff. Of course I see Skymonster's point. But on the other hand, as already mentioned, "these airlines really work you to the bone!", I do believe that you low cost airline crews have to work really hard - so why not allowing you this small benefit of pre-boarding? It's only fair, if you ask me. Of course it's all about the respective airline's policy, and if this is Easyjet's policy to reward their hard-working staff with pre-boarding whenever they fly as a passenger, it's just fine for me.
Trident2e From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 8, posted (8 years 10 months 1 week 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 3626 times:
Staff boarding first and getting the pick of the seats? Now that's what you call great customer service - stuff the people who pay your wages, just make sure you beat them on to the plane. Sounds like something O'Leary would be proud of!
DoorsToManual From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 9, posted (8 years 10 months 1 week 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 3584 times:
Thanks for the replies.
Bubbinksi, at the moment easyJet don't offer a FFP although this might change in the future.
Ndebele, Jaspike, Skymonster and others, thanks for your replies too. To be honest, I've never really given the issue much thought. Perhaps you are right to say that staff shouldn't be allowed to pre-board, but to be totally honest I really don't think it's a major issue. If our regular customers began to complain, I'm sure the practise would stop, but as it is, there are perhaps only 2-3 staff max. travelling off-duty on any one flight. In some cases it might be argued that cabin crew might as well occupy any restricted seats available as they will definitely be the sort required next to emergency exits etc.
Comfortzone From Germany, joined Jul 2004, 56 posts, RR: 0 Reply 12, posted (8 years 10 months 1 week 5 days ago) and read 3483 times:
nice report, thumbs up
The Air Berlin aircraft you spotted at BUD was one of three GEXX F100 leased to Air Berlin as part of an deal between the two carriers after they reached agreement that GEXX would stop flying to ZRH and VIE from various German airports.
A340600 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2003, 4103 posts, RR: 53 Reply 13, posted (8 years 10 months 1 week 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 3451 times:
Boarding started as usual in strict order of boarding card number (although I know this system is totally ignored at other easyJet stations, which I think is a real shame.
This happens at LGW too, I can assure you of that one !!!
at the moment easyJet don't offer a FFP although this might change in the future
Well considering that I am flying them 6 times this year alone I wish they did and I hope when they introduce it they give you points for flights already flown as long as you can prove you have flown them.
Anyway, nice report, well done !!! I must admit, here at LGW, the 1 733 we get a day doesn't look much compared with all those 319s they've given us. I like the 73G's taller tail and wider wings though, but the 319 is my favourite. Today at LGW i saw a line up of 737-300 (only one here today), 737-700 ( only one here today) and an A319 (how many of them was there LOL !!! It made me stop and look. Three different stages alomost in EZY's life and how they've grown as a company, starting with the 300's, then the -700's and finally Airbus.
I remember when I used to whizz up to the airport to see the 1 EZY flight a day and now soon LGW will be their base, wieerd ay!!! Anyway better stop rambling,
Despite the name I am a Boeing man through and through!
Diesel1 From UK - Wales, joined Mar 2001, 1624 posts, RR: 12 Reply 14, posted (8 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 3363 times:
Good report DoorsToManual, well written. good level of detail...
I have a couple of questions for you.
You described how company staff are preboarded - is this easyJet policy (by this I mean that somewhere this will be documented by the company) or is it just something that has become custom & practice (by this I mean it always happens, not written up anywhere and has become accepted over a period of time)?
If custom and practice, is there an easyJet policy in place that this contradicts?
You said you got confirmed flights - what kind of discounts do you get on your flights?
Is there any difference on discount based on how early/late you book, value of ticket etc.?
Presumably you still have to pay the full taxes element of the ticket price?
Chepos From Puerto Rico, joined Dec 2000, 5966 posts, RR: 12 Reply 15, posted (8 years 10 months 1 week 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 3281 times:
Hey Nice trip report
Its funny go is mentioned in your trip report, on Mondays episode of Airline UK (which I believe is from 99 or something like that). Heliojs (not sure if this is how you spell it) took a bunch of Easyjet employees over to Brussels to protests Go and BA, kinf of ironic considering he later on purchased Go- but I digress. Is the f/a featured in the show- not sure what his name is - still working for Easyjet or has he moved on to another carrier?
DoorsToManual From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 16, posted (8 years 10 months 1 week 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 3245 times:
Thanks for your comments.
Pre-boarding staff is not a company policy, it's just an accepted practise. As far as I know, there are no rules which contradict or prohibit this practise as such. However, it IS company policy to pre-board the disabled and anyone else that might need extra time for boarding. It's just another 'grey' area, like upgrading staff or passengers.
Regarding staff travel. There's no fixed discount, so tickets can be booked for £0.99 right up to £199 (if you're unlucky). It's quite a strange system, and to be honest, not the best. As far as I can tell, booking early means cheaper fares, but booking at the last minute (up to 2 hours before departure) can also yield some excellent fares. The other day I found a flight to ATH for £6.99 each way, and this was about 4 hours before departure. Yes, we pay all the usual taxes. I suppose the good thing is we get confirmed seats.
I think the guy (FA) that you saw in that episode is now a cabin crew trainer. The Airline film crew were at LTN the other day filming cabin crew coming off the plane, so there are plenty of episodes left it seems!
767er From Australia, joined Apr 2001, 1092 posts, RR: 4 Reply 17, posted (8 years 10 months 1 week 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 3245 times:
I really enjoy reading your reports as they are always so interesting!!!
I have been following EY thru 'Airline' and looks a great company to work for. You look as though you have lots of fun!!!!!! I did laugh about the head FA, Jan. She sounds a hoot and yes, she has probably been drinking and smoking for her entire 35 year career
Your comments about the price and quality - or lack, thereof - is interesting. It sounds like the type you would get a train in the UK! A captured market I guess.
DoorsToManual From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 18, posted (8 years 10 months 1 week 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 3226 times:
Hi there Brent
Thanks v. much for your comments. Jan is an absolute star, both crew and passengers adore her - she's quite a rare catch. The great thing about the company is that they don't have a definitive age limit, so we have a great mixture of old & new and some fab personalities on the line.
There are no actual agreements with other airlines (guess it's because we're a low-cost airline) however, we can get special (i.e. very cheap) industry discount tickets on a variety of airlines. An example is a £199 return fare to Shanghai with China Eastern, or £139 to BKK with Phuket Air - we also get some fantastic discounts at some very posh hotels, so we actually get some pretty good deals without having to make agreements with other carriers.
Diesel1 From UK - Wales, joined Mar 2001, 1624 posts, RR: 12 Reply 19, posted (8 years 10 months 1 week 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 3210 times:
Thanks for your response.
In my opinion there is no reason for you to get preferential treatment when it comes to boarding.
I appreciate it that you work hard, but then so do the checkout staff in your local supermarket - how would you feel if you were in a queue to pay for your goods, and one of the staff in the supermarket was allowed to check their goods through the till ahead of you even if they hadn't been waiting as long as you?
Skymonster made the following comment On most airlines that have a proper attitude to customer service, staff are always borded LAST as a matter of courtesy to the passengers who pay the staff's wages - another reason not to fly a low-fare operator
This is a little unfare on easyJet as what you practice is not a company sanctioned policy - perhaps EZY ought to give some guidance to their staff.
Incidentally, should Ray Webster use EZY for business or leisure, I'd would expect him to operate by the same set of rules.
The above thoughts are reinforced by the fact you get your flights discounted.
So in summary, you pay (even) less than the regular customers do, and you get to board first and have the pick of the seats - not right really is it?
Another analogy.... you're at the cinema, theatre, whatever, and you see some people who are clearly employees hand over a couple quid for a ticket - when you see them in the auditorium, they have the best seats... you know you paid a whole lot more than them - how would you feel about that?
DoorsToManual From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 20, posted (8 years 10 months 1 week 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 3182 times:
No offence, but I don't really wish to get dragged into this discussion again. This was a trip report, and if you open up an appropriate thread in the Civ Av. forum, I'll give you my thoughts, or you can email me, or even fire off an email to easyJet customer services.
Trintocan From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2000, 3191 posts, RR: 4 Reply 21, posted (8 years 9 months 2 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 3018 times:
A very interesting trip report DoorsToManual. I have just come back from PRG using easyJet on a round-trip from BRS. I think easyJet is quite a good airline notwithstanding the low-cost, no-frills labels attached to it. The magazine is one of the best aspects of it - it did have a few interesting articles but what struck me about it was the detail they went into in covering all of their destinations with insider guides as to taxis, sights and the like. That is quite commendable as almost no other airline magazine offers that info for more than say 1 or 2 featured destinations plus the main base(s).
Oh yes, Eastern Europe has many a great place and now that many of the countries are in the EU travel opportunities are bound to grow spectacularly. Thank you again for that great report.
Dean From Hungary, joined Apr 2005, 213 posts, RR: 1 Reply 22, posted (7 years 8 months 3 weeks 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 2233 times:
Next time, when you visit BUD, prepare for spotting. BUD is an easygoing airport with only two runways, but if you want to spot Russian cargo planes, ATA L1011, 753, Yak42s etc, it can be a good airport for this job