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One of the big differences between low-cost carriers and their full-service counterparts has always been that the full-service airlines are able to offer smooth (in theory!) transfers to other full-service airlines when passengers wish to connect to an onward flight. The traditional low-cost European airlines don’t belong to alliances or have any strong affiliations with other airlines so they can’t offer the same service….at least up until now.
easyJet, Norwegian and WestJet have announced a new booking platform which will allow travelers to book flights on two or more of those airlines and connect seamlessly from one to the other just as if the passenger was connecting between two full-service airlines.
The new platform is being led by easyJet (it’s called “Worldwide by easyJet“) and is being billed as “the first global airline connections service by a European low fares airline“.
Here’s what easyJet had to say about the new platform:
Legacy airlines have traditionally offered connectivity through costly and complex interline and codeshare agreements and procedures – with Worldwide by easyJet these will be replicated by self-connect and sales partnerships through a digital, virtual hub which will offer the same sort of connectivity but more simply and efficiently.
With seats available from today, “Worldwide by easyJet” enables customers to seamlessly connect their easyJet flight with partner airline flights with launch partners WestJet and Norwegian using the GatwickConnects product.
What this means for passengers is that they will be able to use easyJet’s impressive Europe-wide network to connect to long-haul flights offered by Norwegian and WestJet with as little stress as possible.
Just like you can connect from a Lufthansa flight to a United Airlines flight in Chicago so you will be able to connect from an easyJet flight to a Norwegian flight at Gatwick.
How This Works
Passengers are now able to book easyJet, Norwegian and WestJet fares on any of those airlines’ websites so booking travel on two or more of those carriers should be a seamless exercise.
Worldwide by easyJet uses the GatwickConnects service to manage this new service and, per the GatwickConnects website this is how things work:
- Collect your luggage from your arriving flight and go to the GatwickConnects desk in baggage reclaim.
- We’ll check you in, take your bags and make sure they’re loaded onto your next flight.
- Then just exit through Customs, head straight to security and through to the departure lounge.
It doesn’t sound too different to the experience passengers have when connecting in the US from an external flight.
The “worldwide by easyJet” service is now operational at London’s Gatwick airport but the plan is to expand the platform at more of Europe’s major airports.
easyJet will sign other airlines up to Worldwide by easyJet with talks already far advanced with middle-eastern and far eastern carriers amongst others. As well as adding partners at Gatwick Airport easyJet plans to expands to other key easyJet airports in Europe such as Milan Malpensa, Geneva, Amsterdam, Paris Charles De Gaulle and Barcelona.
No timeline has been given at to when all these different airports will come on line…but it’s definitely an ambitious rollout plan.
Protection From Delays Leading To Misconnections
In the past, where an itinerary involved a connection from one low-cost airline to another, there was little protection for travelers in the case of a delay leading to a passenger missing their second flight – the reservations were completely separate and so neither airline had a responsibility to ensure that the passenger connected safely. Worldwide by easyJet should put an end to that…at least as far as connections between easyJet, Norwegian and WestJet are concerned.
The fact that passengers will now be booked on both airlines within the same reservation will see them protected in the case of any unexpected delays and it should now be the airline’s responsibility to ensure they get to their final destination.
It’s great to see low-cost carriers making it easier for passengers to travel longer distances without the extra stress of having to keep bookings completely separate and, more importantly, it’s great news that passengers will have protection should a misconnect happens.
The one thing I’ll be interested to see is how the prices compare – will booking flights separately be cheaper than booking them as one through fare or will the difference (if any) be minimal? Only time will tell.