Next Thursday, there is a fifteenth birthday celebration at Luton Airport: although it is now the UK’s largest airline, EasyJet has only been in the game a decade and a half. Some parts of the package – booking by phone, the ITV Airline series, the Boeing 737 – are gone or going, but the image of fun, and being low cost yet popular, has endured, despite last summer’s horror show on timekeeping and reliability.
I first encountered the carrier back in 2000, when work was in Amsterdam, and for some months I became a regular on what was then the Stelios Speke-Schiphol Shuttle. Not having to pay the kind of prices that “full price” carriers charged when not meeting the infamous “Saturday stopover” rule – since discredited and all but abandoned – was an essential part of my personal economics.
Since then, EasyJet has meant trips to Madrid (three), Barcelona (two), Faro, Berlin, Lisbon, Munich and Naples. All have been good on timekeeping, service and of course cost. The only exception was, ironically, a return to Amsterdam, marred by a theft from checked luggage and the worrying abdication of responsibility from carrier, handling agent, and both countries’ police forces.
And that’s a pity: separating the Schiphol handling process from local criminality should be a priority for EasyJet going forward, especially given that Amsterdam and the wider Randstad area are still providing good revenue for them. And, of course, such action would stop those affected from blogging about it (more than once, in my case).
But enough of the minus points: for many in the UK, before EasyJet, flying was either by charter carrier or not at all. City breaks were for the better off, unless that city happened to be a charter destination. Expats and holiday home owners also had to pay through the nose, rely on charters, or even drive. And working abroad was, well, not so easy on the pocket.
So when I read in the November edition of the EasyJet in-flight magazine (this time free from controversy) that new CEO Carolyn McCall was looking for feedback from her customers, there was only one thing to do: provide some.
And here it is.