It’s one of the oldest sayings around; you get what you pay for. That notion that the best way of securing a great product, service or experience is to pay for it; to pay top dollar. In the aviation sector that philosophy has been tested and retested over many generations of airlines and airline entrepreneurs. The battle between the ‘no frills’ or low cost airline and the rest is the stuff of legend. Harvard Business Review is filled to the brim with case studies about Southwest Airlines – one of the trailblazers of budget air travel. The cases of Ryanair and EasyJet have fascinated customers and business commendations for the last twenty years or so.
As someone who travels between the UK and Ireland a fair amount, I am greatly acquainted with the work of Stellios (and successors) and Mr O’Leary. I have used both airlines for various airports across these islands. Like most, I use Ryanair when I have to – they have a virtually monopoly over some routes/airports – Derry for example. I never think “I know I really want to savour the life enhancing experience of another trip with Ryanair”. I am not criticising it – you do 100% get what you pay for and you know what you are getting. Their communications and positioning are crystal clear – there is no wool being pulled over eyes.
My experience of EasyJet on the other hand has always been more positive. This weekend, I had this positive outlook reinforced.
We headed from Liverpool to Belfast. We had with us Aoife’s class pet – a teddy – Patch, the dog. Spotting that Aoife wasn’t looking that happy and giving Patch a talking to – he wasn’t being a good boy, apparently, one of the cabin crew came over for a chat. He offered Aoife a deal; if she gave him a smile and enjoyed the flight she could take Patch onto the flight deck when we landed for a photo. Good to his word he was waiting for us when we made for the exit and the Captain and Co-Pilot were full of smiles, warm welcomes and chat. The Co Pilot even took the camera off us to get a better shot of Patch (shared with this blog). Knowing how much of the airline’s business model is built on a speedy turnaround at each airport it made the time taken to make a little girl’s day even more impressive.
It wasn’t just the nice gesture towards Aoife and Patch – although this was cool – it was the usual high standard of customer service at bag drop, at the gate and interestingly on Twitter when I shared my experience. We flew back with them today and had a similarly excellent – pitch perfect – experience. So many of us – me included – take to social media with gripes and groans about leading brands. It has been really enjoyable to make a social media noise for good reason this weekend.
There is nothing easy about going the extra mile – it takes effort and commitment. Hats off to EasyJet.