Europe's easyJet starts allocating seats: no more boarding scrum

By John Walton, September 18 2012
Europe's easyJet starts allocating seats: no more boarding scrum

European airline easyJet is taking a step away from its low-cost carrier roots as it adds allocated seating in place of the first come, first served boarding scrum previously in place.

Despite its bright orange low-cost airline feel, easyJet is a key part of the business travel network around Europe, particularly among and between secondary cities.

Australian Business Traveller has used easyJet twice this summer on routes where mainstream European airlines don't fly, and where it's faster and more convenient than connecting via a European hub.

While we found the legroom tight and the boarding scrum irritating, the rest of the service is no worse than flying on British Airways, Lufthansa or Air France -- and the chance to buy a sandwich on board is a plus.

Allocated seating will appeal to business travellers who would rather not waste time queuing up in a  in order to avoid being stuck in a middle seat down the back of the plane.

Naturally, there's a cost for the more desirable seats:

  • £12 (A$19) for "Extra Legroom" (the front row and exit rows)
  • £8 (A$12) for "Up Front" seats (rows 2-5 on an A319 or 2-6 on an A320)
  • £3 (A$5) to pick any other seat -- in other words, to avoid being stuck in a middle seat when everyone else has picked an aisle or window.

The new allocated seating will roll out during three weeks this November, following a trial earlier in the year, with flights to and from the various easyJet hubs changing on three dates:

  • Gatwick South, Luton, Stansted, Southend, Bristol and Glasgow: 13 November
  • Gatwick North, Milan Malpensa, Rome Fiumicino and Paris Charles de Gaulle: 20 November
  • Belfast, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Basel, Geneva, Lyon, Nice, Toulouse, Paris Orly, Madrid, Lisbon and Berlin Schönefeld: 27 November

If you're one of the many business travellers to purchase easyJet's Flexi Fares -- or a holder of the easyJet "plus!" card, which previously guaranteed you'd be among the first on the plane -- you'll be able to pick a seat free of charge.

You'll also get the Speedy Boarding queue-busting check-in desk and Speedy Boarding onto the plane, allowing you to stow your carry-on before everyone else arrives.

Speedy Boarding will also be included in Extra Legroom and Up Front seat purchases.

Read more: easyJet's full announcement or the "will my flight use allocated seating" checker.

For more breaking travel news relevant to business travellers, whether your trip takes you around Australia or around the world, follow us on Twitter: we're @AusBT.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

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