EasyJet to go to allocated seating tomorrow

EasyJet (UK) (London-Luton) is shifting away from its open seating policy copied from pioner LCC Southwest Airlines (Dallas). Instead the low-fare airline will change to allocated seating starting tomorrow. The company has issued the following statement:

EasyJet will introduce allocated seating on all of its flights – typically over 1000 a day – from November 27, 2012.  The airline trialled allocated seating in April 2012 with nearly 2 million passengers flying on 12,500 allocated seating flights.  In response to the trial’s success, the airline took the decision to roll out allocated seating across the whole network.

EasyJet trialled allocated seating because passenger research showed that the boarding process could be a source of stress for some customers and in some case,  a barrier to them flying with EasyJet.  The key tests of the trial were to improve passenger satisfaction without impacting EasyJet’s ability to deliver industry leading punctuality  –  all of which were achieved on trial flights.

Research among passengers who have travelled on an EasyJet allocated seating flight has shown that 71% think allocated seating is better due to the improved boarding experience, while over 60% said that they are more likely to fly with EasyJet in the future as a result.

Some interesting facts also emerged from the trial flights:

  • On shorter journeys seat 6A was the best seller while on longer flights it was 1A
  • On shorter journeys seat 16B was the least popular while it was 19B on longer flights
  • Passengers preferred seats on the left hand side of the plane with seats A, B and C out selling D, E and F

All passengers will be allocated a seat for free on EasyJet’s flights but will have the choice of selecting a specific seat for a fee when they book flights, or adding them later to guarantee where they’ll be sitting. There are three bands of pricing, dependent on the seat selected:

  • £12 for extra leg room
  • £8 for up front seats (emergency exits, row 2-5 on A319 or 2-6 on A320)
  • £3 for any other seat

EasyJet trialled allocated seating during the summer season, the  busiest time of year, to stress test the new systems and procedures. The airline decided to roll out the system in the winter season when fewer people travel to ensure a smooth transition. The trial flights showed that allocated seating can be delivered at the same time as maintaining strong levels of on time performance and without adding cost.

Copyright Photo: Paul Denton. Airbus A319-111 G-EZDL (msn 3569) taxies to the runway at a snowy Geneva.

EasyJet (UK):