Last month I did something for the first time that millions have been doing for ages: I flew easyJet. I went to Nice and back from Gatwick on a four-day trip with my son and, given all the comparative horror stories one has read in the media and seen on television, the overall experience was excellent. We didn’t check baggage so there was no chance of anything getting lost and the flight out was on time; that is, as you will know, it left later than was advertised on the schedule but it arrived in Nice when it was supposed to because, in common with other airlines, easyJet had built in a significant margin for error bearing in mind that a flight to Nice from London spends about 100 minutes in the air as opposed to the 135 minutes suggested by a cursory glance at the timetable.
There was a slight delay on our return flight due to some technical issue or other that the captain sorted out with the help of a guy who kept entering and leaving the cockpit in the manner of a DHL delivery man trying to ascertain that he was handing his package over to the correct person. Before that, we had spent time in the rather nice departure area of Terminal 2 at Nice Airport, which is shown on the home page.
In other easyJet-related news, the chief executive of Ryanair, Michael O’Leary, said last week that his airline was set to overtake easyJet as the major carrier in the UK. Ryanair had a good post-pandemic, with only 3% of flights cancelled this past summer, way better than its rivals. British Airways, for example, suffered an 80% drop in passenger numbers during the pandemic, in the process going from being the 12th largest airline in the world down to 30th. O’Leary said his company’s reward for that performance was to garner record passenger growth. He claimed that Ryanair “is one of the very few airlines in Europe negotiating with airports to increase flight numbers”. He added: “People won’t stop flying. We are poised to be the beneficiaries.”
I have flown Ryanair a few times previously but not for quite some while. Do they still do that triumphant horn sound to signal an on-time landing?