We decided to escape the snow and wind of the UK in March and head to the springtime sun and glamour of Nice on the Côte d’Azur. However, in order to get there, we have it partake in the distinctly unglamorous necessity of 21st-century air travel.
We chose to fly with the budget airline Easyjet for a couple of reasons, the price and it is the only airline which flies to Nice, France from our nearest airport
Firstly, let us admit it, we don’t fly light, even for 4 days. The idea of travelling with hand luggage only is a concept which terrifies us, so we did add one case with a decent weight allowance of 23kg.
Check-In Bristol Airport
Bristol is one of EasyJet’s hub airports so there is a relatively big check-in area and plenty of automated bag drop machines. You simply scan your boarding card and a luggage tag is printed. You attach it to the case yourself and then put your bag on the luggage belt, if done correctly and within weight, off it goes (fingers crossed)!
The process did seem quicker than the old queuing method. We always seem to get stuck behind an extended family of 10 who have packed two shotguns and nearly everything on the restricted list.
Security was quick and quite well managed with plenty of lanes open and we were soon running the gauntlet of the duty-free exit route into the departure lounge. Like snipers, the sales assistants are in position, waiting to pounce and spray you with something flowery.
For a smaller airport, the facilities at Bristol Airport are quite good. The long stay car park is within walking distance of the terminal and not that expensive when compared to other airports. The food offerings are OK with a number to choose from, there is also a little outside terrace to get some fresh air and as it is no-smoking, it isn’t overrun with the smokers and a mound of cigarette butts.
There is now an on-site hotel, a Hampton Inn which is reasonably priced if you want to stay the night before.
Departure time – the flight was on time but the procedure is still uncomfortable. As the turn around time for the budget airlines is so short the gate is called when the plane isn’t ready and everyone is forced to wait in a small uncomfortable area. Also, as the plane was parked away from the terminal, we had to endure the dreaded bus transfer. If you had priority boarding you get the privilege of waiting on the bus even longer.
Boarding the plane did take quite a long time and was uncomfortable. It is a bit annoying as this process is repeated by the staff day in, day out but it always feels like it’s the first time they’ve ever done it.
On Board The EasyJet Airbus A319
The standard seats on the Easyjet Airbus A319 aren’t the biggest, your knees will probably be touching the seat in front of you and this will feel worse if you’re made to put a bag under the seat. Luckily, the flight time was under 2 hours so it wasn’t too uncomfortable.
The staff onboard were quite helpful and friendly and the in-flight service was quick, wherever you were sitting (something BA could learn from).
Although we do sound critical of the flight, after all, EasyJet is a budget airline and do offer some really cheap deals. We feel that just a couple of minor changes involving boarding could make the experience much better and less stressful. Also, compared to the falling standards of British Airways short haul, the EasyJet service is now as good as, if not better.
Arrival In Nice, France
The flight arrived on time and we were greeted to a sunny French Riviera afternoon. The plane was also parked at the terminal so no dreaded bus transfer to disembark.
What are your experiences of EasyJet or what other budget airlines would you recommend?
We will be travelling across North America shortly so any information about US-based airlines would be appreciated.