Cheap But Not Cheerful

Trip Start Oct 22, 2005
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Flag of Greece  ,
Tuesday, August 1, 2006

For those of you who have not had the opportunity or inclination to fly with EasyJet let us enlighten you. They are one carrier in the recent emergence of budget "no frill" airlines along the lines of Virgin Blue and Jetstar in Australia. Basically the price you pay depends on the popularity of the destination and the time and day you fly. For example a flight on a Friday night is very expensive because lots of people want to get away for the weekend. Early morning and very late flights are relatively cheap any day and anytime midweek is also a bargain. That is until they add the tax on. A flight could cost you just 10 but with tax of around 40 it doesn't look quite so cheap anymore. There are other little tricks that the unsuspecting traveler might not know about. We all know that they charge for food and drinks on these new cheap airlines, no problem with that really, we have adapted to taking our own nibbles along for the ride. What some people don't know is they are beginning to charge for baggage. Not just if you are over a certain weight limit but a basic charge for every bag you want to check in. Don't think you can get away with taking it all as carry on like in the USA, as they charge for that as well! A bit rich we think because it's basically a given that people will want to take luggage on a holiday. The second tricky thing they do is land on some little airstrip in the middle of nowhere. You think you are going to Amsterdam but in actual fact the airport they fly into is located in Eindhoven and the money you saved on the flight is used to pay for the train ticket to Amsterdam a few hours away. Not a great way to start your holiday.

So with all this in mind do you think we pay full price for our flights and enjoy the included food and drinks? Of course not! Don't forget we are backpacking, but we still have the right to bag the airlines. We flew to Athens from Edinburgh via London Gatwick and it would have to be the most boring and uncomfortable flight we have had in the whole entire trip. Obviously we knew we would have to take on some food which was fine, hunger was not an issue. The main problem started small but got a little bit more annoying as the flight progressed.

There are no allocated seats on EasyJet so the earlier you check in the earlier you can board. People with a disability or those with children can go first then anyone with an A through D marked on their boarding pass are requested to board in that order. We had an A so we could board first in that group. After we'd pushed our way past the people that don't comprehend the A to D boarding system we eventually managed to get on board.

Finding seats was easy, we thought about taking the exit row for the added leg room but decided against it as we've previously learnt the seats don't recline in that row. We thought we were very smart sitting just behind that row as they couldn't recline into our faces and meals. Opps actually you don't get meals remember. Taking a seat we then found out that in order to reduce hassles from passengers they have put in seats that do not recline at all. It's all part of the money saving strategy we guess. We just hope they didn't try to save on the engines. Maybe you can picture this - "No, no, just use one big bolt to hold the engine on. It will work just as good as four and it will save us some money!".

Without reclining seats we had no hope of falling asleep bolt upright so what to do for the 4 hour flight. There is no on board entertainment so we ended up sitting twiddling our thumbs for the entire time which seemed to stretch for an eternity. It was a short killer of a flight. We were slightly entertained by a Greek girl who sat by the window (there were thousands of seats god knows why she wanted to sit next to us) who every time she ate anything would turn to the window to hide and shove the food into her mouth. Hmmmm a bit weird.

Eventually making it to Athens, thankfully it wasn't one of those places where you actually land in some satellite suburb to save money. After a quick bus ride we were in the centre of town where at midnight all the hostels were full. Luckily we were directed to a relatively cheap hotel at 60 Euro where we collapsed into bed for a well earned sleep.

Also we'd like a give Rick's parents a big THANK YOU for coming all this way to see us while on our trip and bringing some yummy food from home. We had a great time touring Scotland and your company was appreciated. They did a great job adapting to our cheap, hostel way of life - well done. We hope you both had a great time too!
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