I haven’t flown on either Ryanair or easyJet for quite some time. I always avoid Ryanair because I object to the way its passengers are treated. As far as I am concerned, this airline makes a sport of demeaning its clients and of using every trick in the book to extract every last penny by every possible underhand means. Ryanair has single handedly destroyed any pleasure or joyful anticipation in flying.
At Sunvil we never book Ryanair for our clients. We do use easyJet – it is the lesser of the two evils and the fact is that, on some routes, one has very little choice because these two airlines have between them destroyed so much of the airline industry.
Last week, however, I flew out to Athens from Gatwick on easyJet and then back into Heathrow on Aegean. The experience could not have been more different.
First of all we paid extra on easyJet in order to be able to carry 20 kilos of luggage in the hold. When the flight was called, there was an almighty rush to get to the gate; we had to queue for about 20 minutes simply to get into the departure lounge. Before we reached the lounge there was an announcement that the overhead locker space was full and that anyone with wheeled hand luggage would not now be able to take it on board. We were told (as if it were a very big favour) that there would be no extra charge for such luggage to be carried in the hold. There was then a further delay as about 30 passengers, including me, had to take any valuables out of their hand luggage, now destined for the hold; still more chaos ensued as we all scrabbled around on our hands and knees with open cases revealed to all and sundry.
Meantime, those who had paid for speedy boarding were forcing their way through the queue in order to get into the departure lounge first. Ladies with handbags were told to put their handbags into any other piece of hand luggage they were carrying as only one piece of hand luggage could be taken on board. For many this was impossible.
There was then a further almighty rush to get from the departure lounge to the aircraft as many tried to get on board first in order to secure what they considered to be the best seats. It took another 20 minutes to get on board the aircraft. The flight did not leave on time because it was delayed coming in from somewhere in Italy; the crew was Italian. The seat pitch was the same as any charter flight, the aircraft none too clean and, of course, any drinks or snacks on board were payable. All in all, it was an unpleasant experience and certainly not either cheap or good value for money.
Aegean on the way back was no more expensive but oh so very civilised. There was no queuing, seats were allocated, there was plenty of room for hand luggage because passengers could check in up to 20 kilos of hold luggage at no extra charge, the meal on board was excellent and the seat pitch was generous.
In my view, it is simply a myth that the no-frills carriers are always cheaper. Those legacy scheduled carriers that remain offer far better service and value, very often at cheaper fares. Many charter carriers are superior, though sometimes their aircraft are older.
What the no-frills carriers have done is to universally lower standards for the travelling public. Currently, there is gross overcapacity in the market. Many flights should be cancelled rather than flown at rock-bottom prices, which is hardly environmentally responsible. Do not forget that, in order to sell cheaply some of the time, no-frills seat prices at other times are outrageously expensive – but the public seems simply not to notice this fact. Young people may only have flown using no-frills carriers and so know no different – but, for those of us who’ve enjoyed much better flying experiences over the years, no-frills airlines remain something to avoid if at all possible.