When does Easyjet become like Ryanair?

Last week we flew into Toulouse. We were heavily laden with a small 3 and a half year old, a 2 year old and a 10 month old. On arrival at Toulouse we looked across at the new terminal (well it's new since we used to commute from there) and it's plentiful airbridges.

To our surprise the back door opened as well as the front and we were unhappy to see to a set of stairs to get down. We let everyone else off the plane and struggled carrying the 3 of them down the steps. Yes the 3.5 year old could have managed with holding our hand but as there is no handrail at her height it was safer to carry her.

We walked across the tarmac to the corner of the terminal which looked like the sortie for les poubelles but no it was the entrance for us lucky easyjet passengers. With no other passengers in sight and the crew already departed, we navigated another load of steps (what happens to those with difficult walking but who haven't booked assistance I wonder) into the corridor and along to the terminal.

"Well" I said, "so much for improving the airport"!

On the way back we went from Montpellier, again an airport we have used regularly in the past. We noticed lots of fresh new blue painted walkways on the tarmac and one of the few lounges was under refurbishment (to create a better airport apparently). Now historically we would have walked down a short airbridge and hopped uneventfully onto the plane.

Not this time - we were maneuvered outside onto some circular steps (behind all queuing speedy boarders) where we waited whilst the manual steps were positioned into place in front of the front and back steps. Then with the whole plane behind us (except the not so impressed speedy boarders) having been sent through as 'special assistance' for having kids under 5 we were released like dogs from the trap and narrowly avoided being trampled on by the crowd behind us. Lovely. Now the Easyjet experience has become like the Ryanair one. Special Assistance and Speedy Boarding is a nonsense if you can't walk fast enough to get on the plane before everyone else behind you tramples over you.

Perhaps this is all done to encourage us to take up their new venture which they happily announced on the flight - allocated seating. We can buy our seats in the future. At least if we buy our seats then we go back to boarding last without worrying about being stepped on and we can wait in the comfort of the 'updated lounges' for a bit longer instead of standing on the steps getting wet (yes it rains in Montpellier too).

Thanks Easyjet for making our journey one step closer to a Ryanair one. I do hope the allocated seating is a success!

Very good Paul!

O'Leary will still try to charge you for the sarnie - he will claim it against your whiplash compensation

Yeah but you'll still be near the kitchen so free Ryan Air Sarnies upon impact! Yum....

@Catherine - not if you get hit from behind by another aircraft :-) I assume then you will have lawyers aplenty offering aircraft whiplash claims assuming you survive

Anyone who has ever watched Aircraft Investigation will know that you are safer at the back :)

I spent two years watching this when Max was going through an obsessed with air crashes stage :(

We just refuse to be treated as appallingly as any of the airlines do. I have had problems with Lufthansa and BA flying to Munich. The check in and security in Munich is appalling. I was in tears at the attitude of BA. One of the staff came and helped me, she said, I am French, not German.
In the shop where I had to buy something, I cannot remember what now, to comply with their extra requirements, they said that upset lots of people.

@ Nick - oh yes, just loud enough to hear though and internally cause me to get wound up.

@ Paul - we always go straight to the back so we can get out of everyone's way - the kids are used to this drill now so they find it confusing when people randomly stop and b**ger about trying to get into the first spare row with a seat on..but then discover quelle surprise that there's no overhead locker space for their enormous hand luggage and so they set off again...kids follow then the passenger stops again abruptly and the kids walk into their legs again...they hump up their big big and try to ram it into the space - it won't fit...off again....oh the joys!

Suzanne - and they don't do it openly, do they? It is always under their breath.

Nick - the reason EJ always said it was better to have no allocated seating was that it speeded up boarding. Anyone who flies with them knows that is rubbish as everyone tries to get near the front which causes queues on the ramp/stairs and if you did go to the back you had a lot of time to get yourself organised before others came down. Plus you had the "shall we sit here" "or maybe here" types who could not decide where to sit. No allocated seating was my biggest bugbear with EJ

...and I remember the 'IT'S not going to be sick is it?' brigade; as if a child is not a human being. My OH nearly garroted a man in front of us for that one.

@ Nick - yes we had this on the return journey descending into London - the single bloke sat in the window seat was 'fing' under his breath whilst Maisy 10m was clearly suffering. I tried giving her raisins to chew and water but it didn't help until we'd landed when Izzy declared her ears 'banged'. Bless

The other thing that really gets my back up, is people complaining about young children crying on take off and landing:

  1. You're an adult
  2. You chose your form of transport
  3. The child isn't point one above and didn't participate in point 2.
  4. The child is actually in pain and expressing it the only way they know how
  5. and lastly and most importantly it only lasts a few minutes - it's not going to kill you

Catharine - completely agree - so many people so egoist (is that a word?) and not giving two hoots for people who quite obviously should be given a hand.

Paul - Glad to see EasyJet allocating seats, I'm not very business minded, but surely printing a letter and a number on a boarding pass cannot cost anymore than printing SB on a boarding pass and then having to spend a lot of time and money segregating and field marshalling at the airport - can it?

Oh and as an aside: EasyJet Paris-Toulouse, the guy they used to record the security announcements, I'm sure he sounds as though he is getting some personal gratification out of it. I cringe every time I hear it.

Yes, we crossed the Alps in August one year and it bl**dy blizzarded on us, fortunately tunnel most of the way, but imagine emerging this side to that! Sympathies...

@ Brian - yes we'll be travelling back by car in 4 weeks - even with 3 car sick kids I think it might be less stressful :)

Watch this space - no doubt, like in other years - it will snow on our travelling dates and we'll get stuck in the Massif Central with les loups :(

We have been travelling often between france & uk with kids back & forth for 13 years - and the service has got worse and worse. Even now my kids are 10 &13 it can be a nightmare going through security - trying to supervise them & strip off shoes n belts etc, and remember where they have hidden dsi's, and spare bottles of smoothies etc! For the last two years we have not once been able to get through security without causing an alarm or having something confiscated. It is very dependant on the kindness of the staff who are on that day, whether you have luck or not! I once said exasperatedly -' I thought there was a policy to let young children on first?' This was vigorously denied by one flight attendant, and then affirmed by the other....This was after i had been sent to the back of the queue in shame in the flight lounge, when i had dared to go to top of queue simply to ask if it was the correct queue;as there were two flights boarding at same time!

And yes - people hate other peoples kids on planes & rarely help - even when kids are as good as gold, and experienced travellers. I have decided against air travel if at all possible now! Bon Courage!

My OH and I used to commute one each week one way between Stansted and Geneva with EasyJet. We have seen the evolution from early on when Stelios sometimes shook hands with all passengers and asked if they were happy with the servicie as people boarded to the present state of play.

It was cheap, about £10/12 each way. That was 12 years back. We had the house at one end and flat in Geneva and were gradually moving stuff to England manually with each trip. There were no extra charges for luggage, but we did not really go over the top carrying it ourselves anyway. As each of our daughters was born we took them to Geneva to visit people there or in Fribourg and Milan for family visits in the south of Switzerland. About £20 each way nine years ago, but we had no problem with a folding pushchair and luggage. People helped. It is over the last five or so years that with the Ryanair strategy travelling is becoming a trial rather than a journey. All those extra charges as services but quality goes down and innovations that appear retrograde. We cannot afford it but we now prefer to use non-budget airlines because we hate having our children pushed about and half trampled by these scrums of people boarding as if they will not get a seat. As for the briefcase, handbag or ruckscak brigade who sit on the aisle seat with the hand baggage on the other when travelling alone, several of whom are distributed about the cabin, somebody in the cabin crew should be given responsibility for telling them to go to sit with another of their ilk and let parents and children, couples (especially elderly ones) get seats together without having plead with some of them. Parents with children are not pariahs, nor are the elderly, disabled and so on. It is for a large part the reason I do not like Ryanair and may soon dislike EasyJet.

Just seen all of your points Suzanne and yes, with you entirely, I think we are going to all have to start doing long drives soon... People, incidentally, from luggage teams used to collect and hand out pushchairs when we did that business up until only seven years ago. So it was pushchair to plane, put with others if there were or tell a cabin crew member who phoned down to say it was there and then they were brought out on arrival. That was only Easyjet in those days.

@ Paul - ah so it is permanent @ Toulouse thanks. I'm happy to pay for an allocated seat if it means we can get on last and take our time without being squashed :)

Ok so when I add that the flight price was £200 each - is that cheap? £800 to fly into Toulouse and out of Montpellier - Am I so wrong to expect an airbridge for that? If I was paying £100 each with Ryanair - absolutely I would be happy to struggle on and off the plane BUT to me £200 is the price of a bit of luxury worthy of an airbridge.

@ Clare - re Toulouse - agree we always used to have the airbridge with Easyjet at Toulouse - hence my surprise to be sent off down the steps then up the steps to get into the terminal...it wasn't usual for Toulouse - perhaps a one off however if as Chris Callow describes that EJ are putting pressure on airports then perhaps this is Toulouse's & Montpellier's response.

@ Ernest - I do hope you never have to travel with mobility problems when you get older as perhaps it would be the norm then for people to trample over those less mobile than themselves.

@ Catherine - yes we also had the pushchair to contend with - they didn't tell us that there wasn't an airbridge so my hubby one handed lifted that down the circular steps too whilst helping our eldest down.

@ Brian - there were airbridges at Gatwick - my surprise & hence the reason for my post was the changes in France. We consciously have decided not to fly Ryanair with a family as it's just too difficult until they are older but we choose Easyjet because they are good with families (a fact they like to advertise). In the past we have always had airbridges when flying with Easyjet in and out of Toulouse and Montpellier. This is the first time I've seen the changes being put in place whereby one had to exit by steps and board by steps outside the terminal.

If we had known there were no airbridges then we would have a. not taken the pushchair to the plane (big hassle) b. used the babybjorn carrier for Maisy (10m) rather than the pushchair c. used the backcarrier for Izzy(2) rather than struggling down the steps with 3 plus pushchair and hand baggage.

I am not complaining about the Easyjet service per se just our experience last week and wondering whether this was an unfortunate one off or whether they have in fact changed policy in these 2 french airports and in future it will be a step service.

I am usually a super organised person - it's the only way to travel with 3 young kids but this completely caught me off guard.