Yesterday I took my first flight as an easyJet passenger, from London Gatwick to Madrid’s Barajas airport. Since the rest of Alma’s CRL group was flying out of Heathrow earlier in the day, I got on a National Express bus to the Gatwick terminal. Since my flight wasn’t until later that night, I had to wait in the check in area of the terminal for a few hours, since easyJet does not allow check in until two hours prior to departure. After a couple hours of sitting on the floor (due to the severe lack of seating in Gatwick’s busy airport) I checked my 1 piece of luggage weighing less than 20kg (44lbs) and proceeded through security with my one carry on and checked the screens for my departure gate. The screen said “please wait” and since I had about an hour and a half to kill, I walked around the duty free shops of the waiting area and had something to eat. Now I suppose that this entry could have and probably should be entitled “Don’t fly out of Gatwick”, but I don’t know which experience was least pleasurable.
Around my boarding time, I checked the screens again to see what gate my plane was to be departing from. The slot still said “please wait” so I took a seat across from the screens, still in the passenger waiting area. After fifteen minutes, the screen had changed to “delayed until 20:40.” After more waiting and more delays, the flight which was supposed to depart at 7:30pm, still had yet to depart at 9pm. Finally the screen said proceed to gate 16, where I encountered a mass of Spanish teenagers returning home from vacation in the United Kingdom. We passed through the checkpoint to sit (yet again), waiting to board the plane. Since I had checked in early, I was part of boarding Group A, which meant that after the special boarding people, I was in the first group to board the plane and select our seats. Unlike other airlines, easyJet does not assign seats, but rather lets the passengers choose their own seats once aboard the plane.
Fortunately, I was one of the first passengers from Group A on the plane, which meant I was able to sit near the front next to a window. Even though we had departed late and I was exhausted from the previous week’s busy CRL sessions, I could not fall asleep – a rarity on my part.
Thanks to Bose and their noise canceling headphones, I barely heard the child crying for most of the flight two rows ahead of me, but it did not block out the constant announcements from the pilots or flight attendants. First it was drinks, then food, then easyJet shopping and finally some scratch and win lottery cards to be redeemed on future easyJet flights.
Thankfully we quickly arrived in Madrid, a full 2 hours late and I jumped into a taxi to take me to the city center to check into my hotel (which was quite nice by the way – Hotel Plaza Mayor, Calle Atocha, 2 Madrid).
So, in light of recent events, I will be avoiding all travel from Gatwick and using Heathrow instead and will opt for paying just a little bit more (than the $110 easyJet ticket) for the usual flight service. Unless, I find a stellar, ridiculously cheap deal…
Maybe it was just a bad night to be flying easyJet.