7 reasons Jet2 is my favourite European budget airline
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I love a cheap fare on a low-cost airline in Europe. They have allowed me to visit destinations I would never have otherwise visited, like Timisoara in Romania, and Lake Ohrid in North Macedonia. Once you understand the rules of flying low cost it’s easy to abide by them. If you need nothing more than a cheap and cheerful way to get from A-to-B they are a great option.
Not all budget carriers in Europe are created equal. Each offers a slightly different experience that can range from so good it is barely distinguishable from a full-service airline to something downright miserable that might swear you off from ever flying them again.
So who are the best options? Previously I might have given that honour to EasyJet or Norwegian. Unfortunately, both airlines continue to tinker with their cab baggage policies which is frustrating for a traveller like myself who looks for transparency, simplicity and reliability in the pricing and policies of a budget carrier.
Instead, my favourite is a quiet achiever who I become more and more impressed with every time I fly with them.
Here’s why the third largest airline in the U.K., Jet2 is my favourite European budget airline.
The friendliest staff
This is easily my favourite thing about this airline.
Jet2’s slogan is ‘friendly low fares’ and I could not agree with this more. Flight after flight (I’m a regular on their London Stansted to Faro, Portugal route) I’m met with genuinely happy, helpful and welcoming staff from start to finish. There are plenty of smiles to greet you at check-in, at the gate and when you board.
Let me give you some examples from recent flights. I was checking in at the airport and hadn’t paid to select my seat. As the friendly check-in agent checked me in and I was auto allocated 11D she asked me if I was happy with an aisle seat or if I would prefer a window seat. Having suffered through countless Ryanair flights in seat 29E I can’t remember the last time I was asked if I was happy with my (free) seat on a budget carrier.
Next, I travel on an Australian passport which occasionally requires an extra manual visa check before boarding to ensure I have entry rights to the United Kingdom, where I reside. The same check-in agent apologised profusely that she did not know if I needed this extra check for the flight back to London and directed me to a nearby sales desk who could confirm. She then walked over with me to the desk to listen to the advice from a colleague, so she knew for next time and could advise the passenger on the spot. That is both a brilliant show of initiative and excellent customer service.
Onboard my last Jet2 flight there was a mother travelling with a baby in a middle seat in the first few rows with other passengers seated on either side. As the flight was not full the cabin crew invited her to move to an empty row further back after take-off so she would have more room with her baby. Not only did the crew member find and reserve a row for her further back, but he also proactively offered to carry her personal belongings to the new row while she carried her baby.
I’ve never had a bad staff member on my numerous Jet2 flights — they’re usually great fun and always up for a chat to discuss your holiday.
Free airport check-in
Jet2 allows free online check-in up to five hours before departure. On my last Jet2 flight from Tenerife (TFS) this slipped my mind and I had a mild panic on my way to the airport three hours before my flight as online check-in had closed by the time I went to do it.
I have read so many horror stories of Ryanair and Wizz passengers who fail to check-in online being stung with a huge fee for the pleasure of doing so. I nervously approached the airport check-in desk ready to plead my case.
There was no need to worry. Jet2 will happily check you in for free at the airport.
Ground staff everywhere
Budget airlines keep their fares low by reducing costs wherever possible. One significant cost airlines have is staff. That’s why you might see a long check-in line, frustratingly staffed by only one or two desks, and a flight with only one staff member scanning boarding passes at the gate.
I’ve never quite understood why or how but Jet2 always seem to have a surplus of ground staff on hand for every flight I have taken. It’s not unusual to see six or more staff at the gate to board each flight. While this seems to me like an unnecessary expense for an airline keen to offer low fares, it’s great as a passenger. You can expect efficient boarding and extra smiles on hand to answer any questions you might have about your flight.
All fares include full-sized cabin bags
Did you know that many European budget airlines no longer allow you to take a full-sized cabin bag onboard their flights unless you pay extra? That’s what that little symbol next to the price on Google Flights means.
While I have no problem with budget airlines charging extra for non-essential travel items my frustration with the charge for cabin bags is that it makes it difficult to compare prices on the same route with different airlines. Unless you are only going to travel with a small personal item, you will need to pay extra for a full-sized cabin bag on the likes of EasyJet, Wizz, Ryanair and Vueling.
Each airline charges different amounts (some airlines charge different amounts depending on the length of the flight) meaning you need to be a mathematician to know how much you will need to pay for your flight and decide which airline you wish to fly with.
Not Jet2 – all fares include a full-size cabin bag as standard.
No secondary airports
When your destination airport has something written in (brackets) after it, you’re likely landing somewhere nowhere near the city you are visiting. Brussels (Charleroi), Paris (Beauvais), Milan (Bergamo) and Stockholm (Skavsta) are all secondary airports that other budgets airlines choose to fly to keep their costs low. While you might save some money flying to a shed in the middle of nowhere you could be looking at a two-plus hour transfer to the city intended to fly to.
Jet2 do not use secondary destination airports in Europe so you can expect to fly into the main airport of your destination.
Funky cabin interiors
This isn’t a make or break requirement for flights I take but I always smile when I board a Jet2 flight and see their eye-catching bright red cabin interiors. I have no idea why they chose this colour palette which is not dissimilar to what you might find in a suburban nightclub but I love it. If I was flying to Frankfurt (FRA) for work at 6am every Monday morning I doubt I would enjoy it as much, but Jet2 is a leisure airline flying to leisure destinations.
If I’m flying somewhere sunny and fun it puts me in a holiday mood before the plane has even taken off.
Another minor element of the flight, but one I think is clever. Jet2 seatbacks have a simple wire cupholder that folds down and perfectly fits the cups the airline serves drinks in.
Cupholders are hardly revolutionary but for a budget airline, they could be considered an unnecessary expense. As a passenger, the simple benefit of being able to place your cup in a holder gives you more tray table space. In an economy seat, every tiny bit of extra space you can use is valuable.
This is the sort of attention to detail you would expect from a full-service airline, not a budget carrier.
I’ve taken dozens of flights on budget carriers all across Europe. They all get the job done – getting me from A to B for a low price. The more I fly them the more I notice the slight differences between each carrier. While flights on some budget airlines are very forgettable, I’ve really enjoyed each and every flight I’ve taken with Jet2 and I look forward to taking to the skies with them again soon.
Featured image by Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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