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Jim Eagles: A cheap flight that was cheerful

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EasyJet got the thumbs up from Jim Eagles on a recent trip from London to Athens. Photo / Chris Ratcliffe
EasyJet got the thumbs up from Jim Eagles on a recent trip from London to Athens. Photo / Chris Ratcliffe

This is probably old news to a lot of you, but I've just used one of the European budget airlines for the first time, and found it very good ... as well as quite cheap.

I thought I'd mention it because after I booked a couple of seats on EasyJet, for a flight from London Gatwick to Athens, I got all sorts of dire warnings both here and in the UK: our baggage would be lost, the flight would be delayed, we'd have hassles getting seats, the service would be rubbish ... and so on.

Well, I thought, it can't possibly be any worse than the last time I went to Europe and paid top price for a couple of seats on British Airways from London Heathrow to Paris Charles de Gaulle only to suffer all of those things apart from the lost luggage.

Still, as a precaution I did pay extra for a couple of check-in bags (£15 apiece) and to board early (£9) so we could have our choice of seats, though it still cost about 25 per cent less than the best BA fare available around the same time on the same day.

At Gatwick the queue for EasyJet check-in was quite long, though not greatly different to the usual economy class check-in, and because there were plenty of staff it moved pretty rapidly. It turned out that because I had paid for early boarding I could have used the priority check-in queue and had no wait at all.

But the early boarding was still money well spent because, following the lead of the handful of other early boarders, we got to sit in front row seats with lots of leg room, well-placed to be among the first off and near the toilets.

I didn't use the refreshment trolley, because we'd breakfasted well and cheaply at the airport, but the food offered looked pretty good.

Most importantly, the flight was on time, smooth and efficient, thanks to our early boarding seats we were among the first passengers off and our luggage arrived shortly after we got to the claim area. Fantastic.

Of course that good flight and the previous bad one with BA may be the exception - though comments from other passengers suggested not - but on the basis of those two experiences I'd happily choose EasyJet any time. And I'd equally happily give the other European budget airlines a go.

- NZ Herald

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