The UK's low-cost airlines are thinking outside the box in their race to gain competitive advantage. EasyJet has announced all-night check-in at London Gatwick for flights departing before 0830. In a bid to give travellers an extra half an hour in bed easyJet now permits check in for early flights from 2200 the previous night.
Presumably the sort of passengers taking advantage of this scheme are either planning to stay overnight in one of Gatwick's hotels or anticipating a marathon shopping session in the terminal, which remains open all night. It is hard to imagine passengers making a special trip to the airport late the night before travel and then returning home to set the alarm clock for just that little bit later.
Meanwhile, Ryanair and Flybe are outdoing each other in their battle to discourage travellers from checking in baggage. Flybe was the first to announce its "Fair deal on baggage", in which travellers without checked baggage save ｣1 ($1.80) off the ticket price and enjoy double the weight allowance for cabin baggage. Passengers with hold baggage will pay ｣2 for every pre-booked item (or ｣4 if presented unbooked at check-in), but Flybe says 99% of excess weight charges will disappear as it raises the limit to 25kg. Economy plus passengers will pay no baggage costs at all. Jim French, Flybe chief executive says the move will mean "passengers paying for the service they use rather than the cost being spread unfairly across all people on the aircraft".
Hot on Flybe's heels, Ryanair has announced five measures aimed at reducing its airport and handling costs by around 10% by increasing the proportion of passengers flying with carry-on baggage only. The carrier says it will cut fares by ｣2.50; offer travellers with hand baggage only web check-in and priority boarding; increase baggage allowance by 5kg; and charge passengers ｣2.50 per item of checked-in baggage booked via the web and ｣5 per item if not prebooked. Ryanair says the changes overall will mean passengers with cabin baggage only - estimated to be 25% of total travellers - will get lower fares.