Step 1: Open new, paid access airport lounge
Step 2: Give some passengers complimentary entry
Step 3: Profit??
This seems to be the plan for easyJet and its year-old “The Gateway by easyJet & No1 Lounges” offering at London’s Gatwick airport. Though like with most partnership, the situation is a bit more complex than it appears on the surface.
The airline and leading lounge operator No1 Lounges teamed up last year to open the new lounge in Gatwick, offering a smidgen of easyJet branding. And easyJet is happy to sell access to the space for passengers. But, unlike other legacy airlines, easyJet does not have a more traditional euroBiz business class offering, so complimentary lounge access is not typical for any of its passengers.
Over the next three months, however, easyJet will trial the bundling of lounge access for its FLEXIfare customers. The FLEXIfare option also includes a large cabin bag, a 23kg hold bag, free Up Front seat, use of dedicated easyJet Plus Bag Drop, fast track security, speedy boarding, free flight and route changes and an Eat.Drink.Shop voucher.
It is the closest thing the airline has to a business class offering. And now, with the complimentary lounge access for Gatwick departures, it inches even closer to what other airlines offer for business class tickets.
But the access is not a permanent policy shift, at least not yet.
Ali Gayward, UK Country Manager for easyJet, notes that the carrier is “are always looking for new ways to offer travelers more choice and great value, so we’re delighted to have launched this trial, offering FLEXIfare customers travelling from London Gatwick access to The Gateway Lounge.” But she is also clear it is just a trial period.
Perhaps it is a trial to see if more travelers buy up to FLEXIfares now that lounge access is included, offsetting the increased costs to the carrier for providing that access. Or a trial to make sure the lounge facility can handle increased demand. Or a trial to see if once the complimentary access is removed people will continue to purchase the access. Or when they buy less expensive fare bundles for personal travel rather than their business trips.
Either way, for the next three months the lounge should be a bit busier than before.
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