I checked in for my Easyjet flight from London Gatwick to Dubrovnik about a week before my departure on a Saturday morning at 0730. I changed my pre-assigned seats on both the outbound and return flights (this was at a fee of about £6 in total) and printed my boarding passes.
The night before my flight I stayed at the Bloc hotel in Gatwick's South Terminal, located right next to security. I checked out at 0600 and took the lift down to Easyjet bag-drop in Zone C. (One piece of check luggage with Easyjet costs £36.)
There was an enourmous long snaking queue, which I estimated would take me at least 45 minutes to get to the front of, so I asked a member of staff if there was anything they could do and they said I should listen out for someone who would call people to the front for upcoming flights.
Sure enough, after about 15 minutes, passengers for Dubrovnik were instructed to come forward. I swiftly handed over my suitcase and then headed back up one level to go through security, passing through the electronic gates that automatically open after you scan your boarding pass.
Screens above indicate the queuing time for security lanes. I waited for less that two minutes (laptops and liquids out as usual) and was airside by 0625. After nipping upstairs to get some breakfast from Apostrophe, I noticed my flight was boarding at 0645, whereby I headed for Gate 24, about six minutes away.
There were already people lining up when I arrived, with a shorter, separate queue for those with Speedy Boarding. Despite not having this, I was through within five minutes, after having my documents checked, and joined another queue on the airbridge as we waited to board the plane.
Upon entering, I immediately noticed the plane was configured 3-3 (A-B-C, D-E-F) with new slimline Recaro economy seating in navy and orange. The modern-looking product on this A320 is upholstered in a stylish denim fabric with orange mesh detailing down the sides and across the seat-back pockets. It also has small, neat armrests that allow for more width, and because of the slender dimensions, seem to create more legroom. (The knees of the tall guy sitting across from me didn't quite touch the seat in front.)
I was in my seat (14F) by 0710. This was behind emergency exit rows 12 and 13, and was directly over the wing. Seat-backs have coat hooks and sturdy, grey-blue tray tables that fold down and slide forward. Mine was very supportive for typing on a laptop and didn't bounce. There also seemed to be more space under the seats for stowing your bags as the aluminium seat frames are so thin.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE?
You have to pay for allocated seating with Easyjet – Extra Legroom rows on the A320 are one, 12 and 13. Upfront seats are two to six, effectively allowing for Speedy Boarding. Avoid middle seats B and E. Passengers will most likely disembark from the front so the near the nose you are, the less time you will have to wait to get off on arrival.
There was a welcome from the captain at 0725 and, once everyone had settled, a safety demonstration was conducted. The plane pushed back at 0735, trundling to the runway and taking off a little late at 0750. Hand-held devices could be used during take-off, providing they were in flight mode, but laptops could not.
Once airborne, at 0800, a member of crew announced that the food and drink service would begin shortly, and informed passengers of the newspapers (The Times) and magazines (Glamour and Hello) available for sale. Two trollies, one from the back and one from the front, began their rounds at 0810 after reading material had been distributed.
As I had already had a coffee and something to eat I didn't order anything but options from the Boutique and Bistro pamphlet included a meal deal of a coffee (the Little Coffee Bag Co), sandwich and free Twix for £6.90, pastries for £1.80, muffins for £2.50 and porridge for £1.80.
The crew were efficient but not especially friendly. The washroom could have smelt cleaner, although the rest of cabin was immaculate. Cruising over the Dolomites at 0912, the captain came on to provide an update, saying we were making good progress and were expecting to land ten minutes ahead of schedule at 1100 local time. He also gave a weather update, saying it would be 26 degrees and sunny in Dubrovnik.
We landed at the anticipated time, and disembarked efficiently from the front of the plane, down a flight of steps to an awaiting shuttle bus. Once everyone was on board, we drove to the terminal, whereby we got off and were quickly through immigration to baggage reclaim, where my bag appeared after a minute or two.
The new Recaro seats are an improvement – they offer a little extra space and look smart. Despite being thinner, they are still comfortable.
- SEAT CONFIGURATION 3-3 (A-B-C, D-E-F)
- SEAT WIDTH 17.3in/43.9cm
- SEAT RECLINE 15 degrees
- PRICE Internet rates for a return flight from London to Dubrovnik in October started from £96.
- CONTACT easyjet.com