BACKGROUND Clickair began life just under a year ago, and is effectively a low-cost division of Iberia (Spain’s national airline owns around 20 per cent of Clickair). It may be marketed as a stand-alone carrier, but there are plenty of giveaway signs, such as boarding cards and aircraft stands emblazoned with Iberia’s logo. Indeed there is one thing which directly links passengers of both airlines – members of the Iberia Plus loyalty scheme can earn points when travelling with Clickair.
The carrier operates the majority of its flights out of its base in Barcelona, to cities such as Frankfurt, Berlin and Rome. There are however three flights from London – to Seville in southern Spain, Valencia to the east, and La Coruna in the north-west, as well as routes from Edinburgh and Dublin to Barcelona. The majority of Clickair’s flights from London leave from Heathrow, although some of the Seville flights depart from Gatwick (as was the case for me).
FIRST IMPRESSIONS I arrived at Gatwick’s North Terminal at 1430 for my 1555 departure on flight number XG1039. I proceeded to check-in zone A, where I was confronted with a large queue for two desks. There are no self-service kiosks, but Clickair has recently started a “Click and fly” service which allows hand-luggage only passengers to print off their boarding card online and go straight to security on arrival. I hadn’t been able to do this, and so spent around 25 minutes in the queue waiting to check in. I had however been able to choose my seat online, an advantage over many of the low-cost carriers – standard seats are free for all passengers to choose, while “premium seats” (those in the front few rows and where there is extra leg room) can be secured for an extra €10 charge each way. Clickair’s maximum hand luggage dimensions are 50cm x 40cm x 20cm, with a maximum weight of 10kg (the checked luggage limit is 20kg). By the time I had checked in and gone through the normal security procedures it was 1515, so I headed straight to the departure gate.
BOARDING I was sitting in seat 7A in what seemed to be a fairly newly fitted Airbus A320 aircraft, configured in a 3-3 layout. Seats were smartly decked out in the light blue colour of the airline’s logo, and included a fold-down table, jacket hook, and a modest recline function. We were delayed slightly by a late passenger, and finally took off around ten minutes late at 1605.
THE FLIGHT As is to be expected from a low-cost carrier, there is no in-flight entertainment, barring the airline’s own Click magazine. Food and beverage is also on a paid-for basis, with sandwiches starting from €4.50, soft drinks from €2.50, and alcoholic beverages from €5. The flight passed smoothly, and just before landing we were passed leaflets detailing the “Click and fly” option, a service the airline is obviously trying to push at the moment.
ARRIVAL The flight touched down at 1915, around 20 minutes ahead of schedule. I was quickly through passport control, and with no checked luggage to collect I was outside the airport by about 1930. A 20-minute taxi ride to the centre of the city costs around E20, or bus EA will take passengers to the outskirts of the centre for just over €2.
VERDICT Clickair provides a number of services which you might not expect from a low-cost carrier, including the ability to earn frequent flyer points and choose your seat online (a welcome relief from the normal boarding scrum associated with some other no-frills carriers). The choice of printing off your boarding card prior to arrival is also a bonus, and one which I would strongly recommend having seen the lengthy queues for manual check-in (which were repeated on the return journey).
PRICE Fares start from €40 London Gatwick-Seville, and from €20 for the return journey.