Executive travel: easyJet experience is timely and efficient

A short hop to Geneva from London Gatwick with easyJet is a breeze for the business traveller thanks to the low-cost carrier's cutting edge technology.
The easyJet A319 planes may be packed tight, but the thin design of the seats alleviates a bit of discomfort. Courtesy easyJet
The easyJet A319 planes may be packed tight, but the thin design of the seats alleviates a bit of discomfort. Courtesy easyJet

To my mind, business travel is mainly about being on time and creature comforts come second, although they are always welcome. Short trips on aircraft don’t have to be luxurious, just efficient.

That’s why I’ve always liked the low-cost carriers, as normally they try very hard to stay on schedule and are an effective executive jet for serving smaller airports.

They are also cutting-edge technology adopters, as I found on my easyJet flight from London Gatwick to Geneva, a one hour and 10 minute trip.

You book online – including extra payment for hold baggage – and also check in from the internet, either through a laptop or the user-friendly mobile application, which has real-time flight and gate information too. You can keep an e-ticket in your phone.

But it is at the baggage drop in the North Terminal where the technology gets really impressive.

Thoughtfully, the airline sends you an email with a one-minute video explaining how it works. Yet it is pretty simple and human help is at hand.

If you require a visa check, the machine recognises this and calls an assistant over to process it. Otherwise the machine simply weighs your bag, prints a label you attach to it and issues a receipt.

Only at the security zone do you encounter other humans. This system noted a Kindle in my hand luggage that had to be manually checked.

Gatwick North terminal is a giant shopping mall with plenty of comfortable seats in the middle. You can buy snacks and meals here to take on the plane.

At the gate, again the system was completely automated and merely required a swipe of a bar code on the pass printed from the online check-in or held on your mobile.

On board the spanking new Airbus A319, the seats are tightly packed. But their backs have been slimmed down by the use of polycarbonate, creating a little more legroom.

The in-flight cafe boasts an impressive range for a low-cost carrier. Water was £1.80 (Dh8.77) and a meal deal for a drink, snack and sandwich £6.50.

We arrived in Geneva Airport 10 minutes ahead of schedule.

q&a value for your money

Peter Cooper tells more about his easyJet experience:

Did you miss human contact?

It’s only on the aircraft that we actually meet anybody from easyJet. The cabin staff were very friendly. But the computer system was most helpful.

Any tips on using this service?

The speedy boarding, which you are charged extra for, only got you on-board about a minute before everybody else. As seats are all allocated it did not seem to serve much purpose.

What did it cost?

If you are booking a long way ahead then seats may be cheaper. But the Geneva route is busy year-round so there won’t be many bargains. I paid Dh458 one-way, booked three-and-a-half months in advance, including the extra for one 20kg bag. The cabin baggage is free.

How did you get to London Gatwick from central London?

The Gatwick Express is a great start to any journey. An easy black cab ride to Victoria Station and then a non-stop, half-hour train service direct to the South Terminal. And easyJet uses the North Terminal so there was a three-minute shuttle trip as well.

Could you work on board the plane?

There’s nowhere to charge any devices nor seats with extra legroom either. Still you can use your phone and iPad in airline mode during take-off, though not your laptop.

Would you fly easyJet again?

Yes, it’s my favourite low-cost airline, although Norwegian is said to be the best in Europe.

business@thenational.ae

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Published: September 8, 2016 04:00 AM

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