When does it make sense to pay for an EasyJet Plus membership?
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Legacy carriers like British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have loyalty programmes where you can earn both points and miles and status as well as redeeming those points and miles for all sorts of things of value. Most low-cost carriers have shunned loyalty programmes primarily because of the cost of running them and their associated benefits. Think fancy airport lounges and upgrades, which go against their policy of reducing costs wherever possible in order to offer consistently low fares.
EasyJet offers an interesting alternative — a membership programme you must purchase rather than earning it through loyalty and plenty of flights. Here’s how the programme works and where it is worth paying for.
EasyJet Plus costs £215 per person per year. Frustratingly, the membership benefits can only be used by the individual member, even if they are travelling with other people. If you want your family to enjoy the benefits, they can buy partner memberships for a discounted rate. You can purchase one additional adult membership for £185 (i.e. for your spouse), any additional adult memberships will be charged the full £215 fee. Child memberships (2-18 years of age) can be purchased for £135 each.
So what do you get for your membership?
- You can allocate yourself any seat on the aircraft, which includes extra legroom exit row seats and upfront seats for faster disembarkation.
- If you’re checking luggage there is a dedicated priority counter for Plus members.
- Fast-track security is offered at some airports EasyJet operates from. In the U.K., this includes Aberdeen (ABZ), Belfast (BFS), Edinburgh (EDI), Inverness (INV), Liverpool (LPA), all London Airports (LGW, LTN, STN and SEN), Manchester (MAN) and Newcastle (NCL).
- Speedy Boarding for all flights.
- One additional cabin bag.
- If you find a lower price for the same flight after booking it, you’ll be given a credit for the difference.
- If you arrive at the airport early you can transfer to an earlier flight at no cost.
There are also some minor partner discount offers for things like airport lounges, parking and transfers, though they are not significant enough to have a major impact on the value of the Plus membership.
Who is Plus designed for?
Clearly, EasyJet Plus is aimed at luring away business travellers from the likes of British Airways, KLM and Lufthansa who wouldn’t usually think to fly on a low-cost carrier. They usually travel alone (hence the benefits only applying to the member), are short on time and don’t want to stand in queues where possible and would value taking an earlier flight if meetings wrap up earlier.
So, how much would you have to travel in this way for Plus to be worth it? Let’s give a rough estimate of the value of each benefit for the average traveller, per flight:
- Seat allocation: £20;
- Priority check-in, security and boarding: £20l
- Additional cabin bag: Let’s say £30 when they would use it but if they only need it half the time, £15;
- Earlier flight at no cost: Let’s say when they could use it, £45 but they only need it a third of the time, £15; and
- Lowest fare promise: £0 — business travellers who aren’t paying for their own flights aren’t going to care if the flight drops in price.
So for an average flight, the total comes to £70 per flight. On a £29 sale fare up to Edinburgh (EDI) in winter, this might seem like a ridiculously high estimate of benefits, while on a £250 last-minute summer flight to Tel Aviv (TLV) this £70 value of extra benefits is small compared with the ticket price.
Using that £70 value estimate average on a return flight would be £140. So for a business traveller looking to save time, they would earn back the cost of the £215 Plus membership in just two return trips. For someone who is considering moving to EasyJet because they fly a particular route for business every month and they would use and value the benefits, the Plus membership would be enormously valuable.
Who is Plus not designed for?
In short, EasyJet Plus is not designed for families. If the Plus benefits could be used by everyone on the booking (not just the individual Plus member), then it would instantly become a far more valuable option. If one parent who is a member is travelling with their family, unless they want to basically abandon their family during the airport and flight process, they cannot use their Plus benefits unless their family members have the same membership.
If the member bought Plus memberships for their spouse and two children, they could be outlaying a whopping £670 each year before the cost of any actual flights. If neither parent travelled for business but instead wanted the Plus membership for their once-yearly family holiday — such as a two-week summer family trip to Spain or Greece — they would not recoup the cost of the Plus membership in just one trip. Some of the benefits would be very valuable for a family travelling together. For example, the last thing young children are going to want to do is stand patiently in long, slow-moving queues as they wait to fly to the beach. The seat assignment benefit would also be valuable.
Unless the family was making multiple family trips on EasyJet as using and valuing most of the features, it doesn’t make sense for a whole family to each purchase a costly annual membership. It may be cheaper for the family to purchase the benefits they will use individually, per flight.
Switching from a legacy carrier to EasyJet for business travel isn’t as crazy as it sounds. I think EasyJet is a very well-run airline and one I enjoy flying. It’s very consistent — you know exactly what you are going to get each and every flight with few surprises. It also has one of the best apps of any airline in the world.
If you don’t have status with BA, now that BA has buy-on-board, paid seat assignments and tight seat pitch, the flight experience on an hour-long flight to Amsterdam isn’t much different whether you are flying BA or EasyJet.
The Plus membership is a smart way of offering business travellers who are short on time real value every time they fly. And for someone who flies regularly, it can quickly pay for itself. I wish the Plus membership could be used by people on the same booking as the member (business travellers go on holidays, too!) because the value isn’t there for families all with individual memberships unless they fly EasyJet regularly.
Featured image by Robin Utrecht/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
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