It’s only taken a few years for budget airlines to transform travel as we know it. And although they’ll probably never shake off the negative connotations associated with being ‘low-cost’, some of these airlines are working hard to demonstrate to their passengers that they offer more than just cheap seats.
One of those is easyJet which has just announced a new partnership with Virgin Atlantic that offers seamless transatlantic booking. Virgin is the latest, so-called, ‘full-service’ airline to join its ‘Worldwide by easyJet’ programme. Others already signed up include Norwegian, WestJet, Thomas Cook, Corsair, La Compagnie, Aurigny and Loganair as well as Singapore Airlines and its low-cost subsidiary, Scoot.
What these partnerships mean to the passenger is the chance to book one itinerary through the easyJet website. Although the airlines require a longer ‘layover’ (at least two hours and 30 minutes, to ensure flights aren’t held up) they will now rebook passengers if they miss their connecting flight.
Under the current arrangements these would be treated as two separate bookings and if the first flight was delayed causing you to miss the second, well, tough. You’d also have reclaim your baggage twice.
It’s interesting that this sort of innovation is coming from the budget airlines and not their full-service partners. You’d assume that easyJet would have no spare staff available to look into these deals (given that many will check you in then pop up at the departure gate to do it over again before no doubt servicing the engines) whilst the full-service ones would have whole departments available. Clearly this isn’t the case. And it may therefore be time soon to stop considering easyJet as a ‘budget’ airline and consider it as a full service one. If it wants to that is.