Earlier this week, easyJet took a bold new step forward and officially introduced allocated seating across all of its planes. It’s not like the company hadn’t already made a few forays into allocated seatings in the past, but the decision still took a few by surprise. Looking at the #easyjet feed on Twitter, reactions range from oblivious indifference to overjoyed disbelief with even some nostalgia at the good old times of fighting-for-your-seat.
While it’s certainly a key decision for the airline, it doesn’t mean easyJet all of sudden decided to become a traditional carrier. It does certainly show where the company is going hunting. With more and more long-haul destinations, a focus on relatively large airports, allocated seats and flurry of targeted partnerships, the company is set on seizing a part of the juicy market of business travelers.
But fear not, easyJet generalizing allocated seating doesn’t mean the company has forgotten how it makes money (spoiler: it’s all about getting customers to pay more). Actually, passengers will still have to take out their wallets to get the best seats. Looking at it from a certain angle, it does seem a bit like the class-division of a traditional carrier: better seats are more expensive, whether you call it “business”, “first” or just “optional additional legroom”.
However, there’s a bit more subtlety in easyJet’s approach. Instead of having strictly divided spaces inside its planes, the airline has acknowledged the real seat-map that some spend their time tracking inside planes. As a result, the range of options shows a wealth of variations: extra leg room is 12€, front or emergency exit 8€, assigned aisle or window is 3€. Value is in the eye of the beholder and easyJet has perfectly understood it. So much so that it is not even scraping the “Speedy Boarding” option instead leaving it as a bonus for loyalty card holders and Flexi Fare customers. Are we witnessing the retransformation of “ancillary options” into “frills”? EasyJet only knows…