This past weekend I took a very short trip to England to visit one of my dear friends, CinsofJoy and her family. It was a long overdue trip. Five years to be exact yet it didn’t feel like that much time had passed. So I was very excited to go see them and the little one who I had never met. I booked a Friday morning flight, nothing too early as I had a busy day & night the previous Thursday so getting up extra early on Friday did not see like a good idea. Even with an 1130 flight I still had an adventurous” travel day. Now some of the mishaps were my fault. Stopping to do one more thing at home and trying to top up my phone at the train station was not the best use of my time. That led to the train for the airport leaving the station as I was running down the stairs. So here goes my advice to you if you are travelling on EasyJet in Europe.
1. Read your boarding card and adhere to the check-in & gate closing time.
They mean what they say. They close check-in for flights 40 minutes prior to take off so get to the front of the line when they call or save yourself the hassle and do it online. You can check in 30 days before your flight, just make sure you can get access to your boarding card at the airport or have a printed copy. The boarding gate closes 30 minutes before takeoff so be there before and keep an eye out for last-minute gate changes. Friends of mine were in the airport 2 hours before their flight and got caught with the last-minute switch. They weren’t the only ones and they had to book a new flight.
I learned the hard way they are nazis about this particular rule. I am accustomed to gates not closing until 10 or so minutes before take-off so when I missed the airport train I was only a little concerned. I knew I was going to be running a good bit when I got to the airport and I did. I ran as much as I could and was reminded how lazy and out of shape I have gotten when I had to stop and speed walk to catch my breath. I made it through the airport, past the customs point and to the gate thinking I just barely made the flight. It was 1115 or so and the agent said no, I could not board. I could see my plane, I could see the ground crew doing their checks, I could run to the plane and up the stairs and be in my seat in under 2 minutes. The answer was still NO. I watched them close the rear hatch, and I saw lady with the manifest exit the aircraft, about 7 minutes later. The plane left with me in the airport having to re-book my outgoing flight to a further airport. Needless to say, Friday was a looooong day. I missed the sit down Thanksgiving dinner. So folks, check-in on-line, get to the airport early and pay attention to the board for gate changes. Most times they are not announced.
2. Get a smaller bag and pack light.
I am glad I talked to someone the day before my trip and they gave me a heads up about the bag. I went home and measured my roller board suitcase. It is a standard size suitcase that I use for short trips. It did not make this trip because it is larger than what is allowed by EasyJet and RyanAir and similar budget carriers. Be prepared to check that gigantic hiking pack that holds the world and pay for the pleasure. Directly from the website, You can take one piece of hand baggage into the cabin with you – no bigger than 56 x 45 x 25cm (appx 22 x 18 x 10inches) incl wheels – which must fit comfortably into the baggage gauge. Hand bags, briefcases, laptops and laptop bags are all counted as one piece so if you have a hand bag and a laptop bag for example, you might want to consider putting one inside the other. I like traveling with a large handbag to hold extras like souvenirs or snacks. Not on EasyJet. For a weekend it’s not bad but it takes some adjustment. See here for the rest of the restrictions on baggage.
3. You get what you pay for.
Imagine my shock when the beverage cart came around and a cup of tea was 3€! That is a beer and 2 montaditos at the cafe on the corner by my apartment and most other places in Barcelona too. At least the budget carriers in the States give you something with which to wet your whistle (say that three times fast) for free. Not so our friends at EasyJet. I know most of you say, just get something in the airport but a small bottle of water is 2.50€ at the cafeteria. A markup of 2€, so I figured I’d just get my free water or tea. I even checked the menu and it had prices for everything but nothing for the beverages. I wrongly assumed that those were free. I’m still mad about that 3€ cup of tea.
The take away is that EasyJet is a bargain but read the fine print about what is not allowed, get to the gate early and pay attention to the announcement board. Any deviation from their stated rules will mean a hit to your pocket. The flight attendants on both legs of my journey were friendly and the planes were on time or close to it. Just be prepared to pay for extras and perhaps wear the same clothes for 2 days as the bag allowance is not that large.
What are you travel adventures, either getting to and from the airport or not reading the fine print and running into airline rules?