Now boarding… calmly. EasyJet ends the scrum

 

Britain's biggest no-frills airline is to overturn one of its founding principles. From November, easyJet will replace the boarding free-for-all with allocated seats on all its flights.

The airline has been running trials for allocated seating under the codename BOSS ("bums on selected seats") since April. Seventy per cent of the 800,000 passengers surveyed said they preferred allocated seating.

"Allocated seating gives all our passengers a better boarding experience," said easyJet's chief executive, Carolyn McCall. Every passenger is entitled to have a seat allocated free. Those who want to guarantee a particular seat will pay £12 for extra legroom, £8 for a place in one of the "upfront" rows allowing swifter disembarkation, or £3 for other seats.

Ms McCall said: "On trial flights the majority of passengers were simply allocated seats when they checked in." The airline claims to use "the most advanced seating algorithm in world aviation," designed to seat together families, couples or colleagues on the same booking.

The new policy is to be rolled out during the month in which passenger numbers are at a minimum. It will take place in three tranches. At Gatwick – easyJet's biggest base – the change will be introduced at South Terminal on 13 November, with the North Terminal switching a week later.

The conventional business model for no-frills airlines has always involved unassigned seating. Douglas McNeill, equity analyst at Charles Stanley Securities, said: "If it can be done without slowing down the turnaround, and passengers are willing to pay for it, then perhaps conventional wisdom is wrong; easyJet's trial results suggest it is. Other low-cost carriers may now follow – but they'll probably want to see easyJet make it succeed across its whole network first."

BA's low-cost offshoot, Go, ran trials comparing allocated seats with the "first-come-first-served approach" and settled on assigned seats. The airline was taken over in 2002 by easyJet, which reverted to a free-for all.

Go's founder, Barbara Cassani, said yesterday: "It was clear to us that the boarding process using free seating was not faster and added significantly to customer stress. I think the flying public of Europe will be so much better off having the choice of flying with the prices and quality of easyJet and having an allocated seat."

Ryanair, Europe's biggest budget airline, offers allocated seating in the first two rows and the overwing exits, which offer extra legroom. A spokesman said: "It has proven very popular so we are likely to extend this to more rows… I don't think we will ever have the cabin fully allocated, as it would impact our 25-minute turnaround."

Monarch allocates seats, but passengers who choose not to pay extra to check in online are assigned a seat only at the departure airport.

Passenger planes set for formation flying

Passenger aircraft will soar up even faster on take-off and begin flying in formation like fighter jets in future, a major manufacturer has predicted.

Airbus believes that in the second half of this century, aircraft will pass a lot closer to each other on high-frequency routes. The changes will be aimed at clearing runways quicker and saving fuel.

The company also predicted that aircraft will taxi off runways more quickly and use "more sustainable biofuels and other potential energy sources".

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam