EasyJet has made two back-to-back announcements this week – offering both good and bad news for travelers.
The airline first revealed on November 30 that it was partnering with two COVID-19 testing firms to offer its customers a reduced rate on pre-flight tests, making it easier for passengers to obtain tests which are now necessary for entry to a number of the airline’s European destinations.
However, there was worse news for travelers on December 1, as easyJet announced that it would be further restricting cabin baggage allowances from February 10 2021 by charging an additional fee for bringing a larger cabin bag for storage in the overhead lockers.
Cheaper Testing Options To Help Encourage Travel
The offer of cheaper COVID-19 tests is definitely good news for easyJet customers, with proof of a negative test result before travel becoming an increasingly common entry requirement for a number of European countries, including Germany, Spain and Italy.
The additional cost of COVID-19 tests is a further potential barrier for overseas travel amid the pandemic, potentially adding up to GBP£200 to the cost of a vacation, which is often more than the plane tickets. EasyJet’s partnership has managed to reduce the cost to GBP£75 for a home test with Confirm Testing, or GBP£100 for a home test or GBP£150 for a clinic test with CityDoc.
The test option will be available to EasyJet customers when booking through the company’s website, with tests delivered by Royal Mail Priority Post boxes or courier service and results available within 48 hours of tests being returned.
This should make for a relatively streamlined process for passengers and aims to reduce both the cost and hassle of getting tested before flying – making it easier for people to return to overseas vacations during the pandemic.
That said, while the cost of the GBP£75 home test is lower than that offered by Wizz Air, at GBP£85, some customers may question whether they should use the easyJet service when Gatwick Airport offers passengers the use of a drive-through testing site for just GBP£60, with results provided the next day.
Cabin Bag Restrictions An Annoyance For Passengers
EasyJet’s other announcement this week has received a much more negative response from passengers. The company’s plans to further restrict cabin baggage allowances have not gone down well, with many customers seeing this as another way to squeeze money out of passengers.
Under the new rules, in place from February 10 next year, passengers who wish to bring a larger cabin bag (with maximum size 56x45x25cm) will have to book an Up front or Extra Legroom seat, at an additional cost of between GBP£7.99-GBP£24 each way. Otherwise, customers will only be allowed a small cabin bag of a maximum size of 45x36x20cm, which can only be stored under the seat in front.
The new rules bring easyJet in line with its low-cost rival, Ryanair, which only allows customers one small cabin bag as standard, and requires an additional fee for a larger bag. However, many customers will see this as another inconvenience and a further potential added cost to their travel plans.
This move comes in the wake of the news that easyJet experienced its first ever full-year loss of USD$1.7 billion as a result of the travel restrictions brought in to control the COVID-19 pandemic. This has already impacted flight availability in the short-term, while job losses and a reduced aircraft fleet undermine the company’s capacity to increase flight offerings once demand begins to increase again.
It remains to be seen whether the budget airline can continue to rely on it’s low-cost flight model in this new era of more restricted international travel, but the new cabin baggage rules are perhaps one sign that customers can expect some higher costs in the near-term at least, as the company tries to offset the significant financial losses experienced this year.
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