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".

Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Bid / Tender Writing Executive

    £24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executives / Marketing Communications Consultants

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Day In a Page

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own