Flybe is spending £4 million on strengthening its Economy Plus business product.
The budget airline wants to set apart Economy Plus from its standard no frills offering. It means Flybe will be offering a similar two-tier product to that of BA's forthcoming BA Connect (see Online news BA rebrands Citiexpress, January 11) operation which starts on March 26.
Economy Plus is available now on all routes. It offers business perks to passengers who pay the full fares which start from £100 one-way.
Passengers are offered a range of benefits including ticket flexibility, dedicated check-in (with shorter check-in deadlines), advance seat selection, use of airport lounge, in-flight snacks, extra baggage allowances and use of a loyalty scheme. There's also a special business-to-business website for bookings: www.flybe2b.com
Simon Lilley, Flybe's director of marketing says that the Economy Plus benefits meets the needs of today's business travellers. "The only remaining reason to travel with a traditional airline has disappeared," he claims.
Flybe is essentially a regional carrier. It operates very few flights into London. Most services link the UK mainland and the Channel Islands and include destinations in Ireland, France, Spain and Portugal.
But Economy Plus can be expensive. Today when Business Traveller checked peak time flights for a day trip between Gatwick and Jersey on January 23 we were quoted £298 as against the regular no frills rate of £193. A similar trip between Southampton and Edinburgh would cost £340 and £230 respectively.
The price difference was even more marked on international routes. For a one night trip departing next Monday, Birmingham-Toulouse in Economy Plus was priced at £373 compared with £165. Another trip between Exeter and Paris CDG would set you back £361 as against £175.
For more information go to www.flybe.com
Report by Alex McWhirter