There’s a running joke in the office about my feelings over budget airline EasyJet. I’ll make no bones about the fact that I am most definitely a British Airways fanboy. I like their up-front costs, I like their liberal carry-on policy and have yet to have a bad experience with their cabin crew. So when I perhaps overstated my dislike of having to travel with EasyJet when flying back from Aberdeen on business, the reaction was duly noted and now comes up whenever the conversation turns to air travel.
In truth, there is no reason for me to dislike EasyJet at all. They are a budget airline like many others and certainly better than some I can mention. Indeed, since the aforementioned Aberdeen trip incident, I’ve used them a couple of times, both domestic and international. Whilst they don’t rank alongside British Airways, they are catering for a different market. And, to be perfectly frank, now that I think about it, the ‘paying for what you use’ model does have its attractions. Still, I would not go so far as to say that they are my preferred carrier.
So when I had to sit down today and book flights for the forthcoming trip to Israel, you can imagine that British Airways was first on my search list. I’m pretty liberal when spending my own money – it is my choice as to whether I pay extra for comfort – but when spending other people’s money I have to be more conservative and British Airway’s prices fell well outside ‘reasonable expenditure’, especially as there is no customer paying for this trip. It also struck me that they didn’t have much in the way of non-stop options with the majority of flights being via a stopover in Madrid, adding ten hours to the total time.
Israel’s own El Al was next. Whilst cheaper they did have some odd options for flight times. Given that the course I am attending starts Sunday morning, El Al only had two options: Fly Saturday evening at 10:40 PM – meaning arriving on the day of the course at 5:30 AM, or fly Friday morning at 9:40 AM – meaning a 4AM start. And then there was the added oddity that I had to fly out Luton, way out to the north of London, but fly back in to Gatwick, to the south, meaning that I couldn’t drive to the airport. The final nail in that particular coffin was the carry-on restrictions: Whilst they have the maximum of 55cm by 45cm by 25cm, they limit you to 8Kg – heavier than that it needs to go in the hold. My camera gear comes in nearer 12Kg – and they’d have to prise it out of my cold, dead hands before it goes anywhere near the hold of an aircraft.
So it was that I found myself on EasyJet’s web site entering the travel details when a curious thing happened. They had a direct flight on Saturday at a reasonable time – 12:25 PM. They had a reasonable price, even after adding the surcharges for hold luggage and seating and most bizarrely of all, their carry on weight limit is defined as “as much as you can safely lift above your head”. They do have a ‘guaranteed carry on size” of 50cm by 40cm by 20cm, but there are a couple of ways that you can increase this to the maximum – one of which is by simply booking extra-legroom seats. As, for a five hour flight, that is a no-brainer in any event, it looks as if my precious carry-on will be safe.
So the flights to Tel Aviv are booked. With EasyJet.
I’ve never hear the end of it…