I don’t do much long-distance travel (sheer laziness) but I do fly short-haul quite a lot, using budget airlines — mainly Ryanair. This afternoon, I flew with EasyJet to Copenhagen to speak at the Neils Bohr conference and was reminded of how comparatively civilised EasyJet is compared with its raucous competitor.
Reflecting on the difference, four factors stand out:
The EasyJet website is relatively straightforward to navigate. There are none of the annoying hidden traps for the unwary with which Ryanair tries to nudge naïve customers into buying travel insurance, priority boarding, car rental or ‘special’ Ryanair cabin bags. One has the feeling that the EasyJet site is actually trying to help one book a flight as quickly as possible.
There’s no scramble to board and no scrum to find a seat when you get into the aircraft. Why? Simple: Easyjet assigns everybody a numbered seat on booking.
During the flight, it’s relatively quiet. There’s nobody constantly on the public-address system trying to flog you scratch cards, ‘duty-free’ crap, rail or bus tickets, or electronic ‘cigarettes’.
EasyJet planes have pockets in the back of the seats into which one can stuff books, water bottles, Kindles and other paraphernalia while you’re settling in and trying to find the seat-belt.
In other words, there’s nothing sophisticated or complicated about the things that make EasyJet a more enjoyable travelling experience. Why then doesn’t Ryanair adopt them? After all, they give EasyJet a competitive advantage. I have friends who, when coming to visit us in Provence in the summer, will fly to Nice rather than to Marseilles or Toulon simply because EasyJet flies to Nice — even though the resulting road trip to the house is significantly longer.