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Easyjet A319 economy class
CHECK-IN Flight EZY8544 was scheduled to depart at 1010, with a flight time from Prague to London of one hour, 35 minutes. After a 25-minute drive from the city centre, I arrived at Terminal 1 at 0815. Although I had checked in online and printed by boarding pass the day before my outbound flight, I still had to check a case in (Easyjet has a strict one-bag rule for hand-luggage, which is annoying as I can’t always get everything into a single piece).
There were long queues for the two check-in desks that were open (121 and 122) and no bag-drop – just one desk for Speedy Boarding that no one was using. It took 20 minutes to reach desk 121, but by 0840 I was walking to passport control. There was a five-minute delay while I waited for my documents to be checked and then let into airside departures. I found a seat and read my magazine for about 20 minutes until I noticed that my gate (A2) was open, at which point I went to security. It took about ten minutes to get through and the staff were very rude – one girl nearly smashed a tray into my finger but I whipped it out of the way just in time.
Jackets and belts came off and liquids had to be presented, as usual, in a clear plastic bag. The metal detector beeped when I went through so had to try again, this time removing my watch and bracelet. It then went off a second time, and I was searched and asked to remove my boots. Finally, I was allowed to pass through and collect my belongings. Once in the waiting area I took a seat and continued reading my magazine.
BOARDING Through the floor-to-ceiling windows I could see the plane arrive at the gate at 0940 and the arriving passengers disembark at 0950. My fellow passengers and I were called to start boarding at 1000 (talk about a quick turnaround), but had to wait for ten minutes on the tarmac to gain access via a single set of steps to the back.
THE SEAT Although Easyjet is trialing assigned seating on certain routes (click here to see which routes and how much it costs) most travellers (including those on this service) have to get whatever they can – unless they pay extra for Speedy Boarding. Once on board at 1015, I chose seat 8A by the window, just in front of the engines. Good-size tray tables folded down from the seat-backs in front, and upholstery was the usual grey and orange. It all looked quite clean.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? There were 26 rows of seating on this A319, and unless the plane happens to be disembarking from the back as well, it is better to choose a seat near the front if you can. If you want to take your pick, get to the gate as early as possible and get in line, or book Speedy Boarding. If you are tall, opt for seats A, B or C in row one as they offer the most legroom. Exit row seats in ten and 11 are also a good bet.
THE FLIGHT The captain came on to welcome passengers and introduce crew (by name) at 1020, with the safety demo performed shortly after. Take-off was later than anticipated, at 1040, with the pilot explaining that the reason was there had been a delay leaving Gatwick. I slept for most of the flight, ignoring the refreshment service and duty-free.
ARRIVAL Landing was at 1205 (1105 local time) – meaning we were about 20 minutes late. Disembarkation was easy and I was through immigration and into baggage reclaim by 1130.
VERDICT Although security and boarding was a little shambolic, and the flight 20 minutes behind schedule, it was a perfectly decent short hop. If you are paying as little as £69 return for this trip, it represents very good value for money.
SEAT CONFIGURATION 3-3 (A-B-C, D-E-F
SEAT PITCH 29in/73cm
SEAT WIDTH 17.5in/44.4cm
SEAT RECLINE 4in/10cm
PRICE Internet rates for a return flight with Easyjet from London Gatwick to Prague in October ranged between £69 and £188.