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Easyjet A320 economy class
CHECK-IN My friend and I arrived at London Gatwick airport at 1400, taking the transfer shuttle to the North Terminal, where our Easyjet flight to Bodrum, Turkey, was departing from at 1530. Zone G was assigned for check-in, but as we had already checked in online and printed our boarding pass, and were carrying one piece of hand-luggage only each, we didn’t have to drop any bags off and were able to go straight to security. Our boarding passes were scanned and we were then directed to the nearest screening channel where there was a short queue ahead of us. Liquids and laptops came out, as usual. We were airside in record time, by 1412.
BOARDING The gate (110) was due to open at 1435 so we had time to do a bit of last-minute shopping, and then grab a coffee when the opening time changed to 1445. We headed down there immediately as didn’t want to be at the end of a long line of people and get a bad seat. (Easyjet does not generally offer assigned seating.) The gate was at the far end of the terminal, and although signs said all gates were ten minutes walk away, this seemed a little longer.
We got there at 1500 and managed to get near the front of a rapidly forming line of holidaymakers, but there was then a 45-minute delay due to a technical hitch on the plane. After having to stand for ages to keep our place in the queue, boarding via an airbridge finally started at 1545, with families with young children and those who had paid for Speedy Boarding called first.
THE SEAT We were on board by 1555 and chose seat 8A and 8B near the front. 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 when they get on – unless they pay extra for Speedy Boarding. 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 31 rows of seating on this A320, 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 you can 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 (12 and 13) seats are also a good bet.
THE FLIGHT At 1605, the captain came on to announce his apologies for the late departure of the flight, which was estimated to take three hours, 30 minutes. The safety demo was conducted at the same tie as the plane pushed back, at 1610, with take-off about seven minutes later. A refreshment service began once at cruising altitude, at 1635. The back of the headrest covers advertised Stella 4 per cent for £3.60 a can.
Halfway through the flight we overheard a couple behind us telling a stewardess their baby was ill and that we might need to do an emergency landing. The crew then made an announcement to ask if there were any doctors or nurses on board, and one girl stepped forward to take a look at the baby. I could hear her quietly asking questions about the child and it was decided that whatever was wrong, it wasn’t severe and could wait until landing in Bodrum.
ARRIVAL The original arrival time was for 2130 local time in Turkey, and even though we were late departing, we made up most of that time en route, with touch down at 2140 (1940 UK time). Passengers disembarked via an airbridge and then made the five-minute walk to immigration. There was a separate queue for visas, but we soon discovered that they could only be paid for in cash and neither of us had any on us – be it pounds or Turkish lire. (Not very organised, admittedly.)
“No problem”, I said, thinking there would be a nearby ATM but it wasn’t quite so simple. After asking a member of security staff where the nearest one was, he said it was outside the airport in the other terminal, so I had to sit in a waiting room with a guard (who had taken our passports), two other tourists, and our luggage while my she went to get money.
Finally, 25 minutes later, she came back with the cash but stressed out because the ATM was so difficult to find and because as she had left the airport building and had no identification, then had convince another officer to let her back in. Not a very good system but judging how laissez faire the staff were about it, it must happen all the time. At about 2230 we went back to the visa desk, paid for the stamp and went through immigration, which was now empty. Bodrum was a 50-minute taxi ride away.
VERDICT A rather shambolic journey – first a late departure due to a technical hitch, then a baby ill on the plane and a possible emergency landing, and finally the problem with getting visas on arrival. The flight itself was fine, though, and the crew professional, caring (towards the parents of the baby), and friendly.
SEAT CONFIGURATION 3-3 (A-B-C, D-E-F)
SEAT PITCH 30in/76cm
SEAT WIDTH 20in/51cm
SEAT RECLINE 4in/10cm
PRICE Internet rates for a return flight from London Gatwick to Bodrum with Easyjet in October ranged between £167 and £289.