By buying an Austin-Dublin Madrid-Austin ticket on American Airlines, and separate Dublin-London and London to Barcelona flights on BMI and EasyJet respectively, we saved about half compared to a single Austin-Dublin-London-Barcelona Madrid-Austin ticket. As a frequent traveler, there were two elements of our London to Barcelona flight that I was interested to experience.
The first was flying out of Luton, the only “London” airport ! had not previously used. Luton is actually about an hour from central London, but as we were starting from North London and could pick up an airport bus nearby, it only took about 35 minutes to get there. There are actually 5 London airports – Heathrow, Gatwick, London City, Stanstead, and Luton, and each has its pluses and minuses. Luton and Stanstead are mostly served by the low cost airlines.
Luton airport is small and contemporarily decorated. Best of all it has a Marks and Spencers Fresh, which sells very good quality prepared foods at reasonable prices, so we were able to have a nice lunch onboard our flight and no rely solely on the airline’s food for sale.
I’ve flown many different airlines. Many times people will compare the largest of the low cost European airlines, Ryan Air and EasyJet to the US’s SouthWest. But Southwest is more like a full service airline in comparison. Ryan Air really brings out he “coach” in air travel – almost everything about the experience is uncomfortable, except the price of the basic flight. EasyJet is their main competitor in Europe and I was interested to see if it would be just as bus-like, or any better. Both airlines have very low basic prices, basic facilities, and charge additional fees where they can, e.g. for baggage, early boarding, etc.
A few years ago, we extensively used AirAsia in SE Asia which is modeled after RyanAir’s operation, but the experience was much better, with nicer planes and better options. Our flight on EasyJet was more like that – the plane was clean and comfortable, although none of the seats recline. Not such a big deal on an 80 minute flight,. In the end it got us where we wanted to go at a reasonable price and in reasonably comfortable fashion.
The British have an expression that has become commonplace – “cheap and cheerful”, which means that something is inexpensive, but with decent quality (as opposed to just cheap!). I think that pretty much sums up our first EasyJet flight.