Simon Calder's Holiday Helpdesk: What's happening to the end of the easyJet boarding scrum?
Every day our travel guru answers your travel questions
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Tuesday 13 November 2012
Q I understand easyJet is supposed to have introduced allocated seating (presumably as another money-making exercise), but when I flew out and back from Gatwick to Barcelona at the weekend it was the usual old scrum. What's happening?
A Allocated seating is being rolled out across the easyJet network, and by the end of the month it should be standard practice on all easyJet departures. November is the quietest month in the airline calendar, and that is why Britain's biggest airline (by passenger numbers) has chosen it to make the biggest operational challenge since the airline's creation in 1995.
Tests have been taking place this year on specific routes to gauge how well the system works, test passenger reaction and identify problems - does it lead to slower boarding, for example, impacting on-time performance?
The tests have proved successful, with most passengers happier with the new arrangement than the traditional free-for-all. The offer is subtle: you can opt to pay for a seat (starting at £3, but with a premium for rows at the front and locations offering extra legroom). But if you don’t opt to pay, you should be allocated a seat that takes account of your circumstances – in particular seating families, and groups of friends or colleagues, together. Note that this works only if you are travelling on the same booking.
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