There are low cost airlines - and then there are low cost airlines. Since the birth of no-frills services over 20 years ago, discount carriers have gradually tweaked their offers to accommodate the needs of niche markets within the low cost model. Companies like easyJet and Ryanair give little more for your money than the right to plunk your bum on one of their rather cramped seats whilst being flogged lottery tickets and overpriced sandwiches en route to a destination that - in the case of Ryanair especially - may be somewhat further from city centre than you expected. The “from” price always looks attractive but extra charges for checked baggage, credit card payment or priority boarding can really add up as a recent Daily Mail investigation emphasised. All told, “saving” can be a mug’s game and low cost doesn’t always mean low price to the passenger in the end so do compare fares with extras in mind.
Give and take
Over lunch in Amsterdam, Arian Van Der Werff, Transavia’s amiable Business Development Manager and Bournemouth University graduate explained his airline’s approach to low-frills (but not no-frills) service.
Transavia (and also Germanwings) are banking on a business model that recognises some cost cutting is invisible to passengers whereas a few essential services are necessary for customer comfort and best included in the price of the fare. Reservations are ticketless and while Transavia charges for on board food and drink, the crew clean the cabin during a typical 40 minute turnover (compared to easyJet’s 25 minutes) and flies a single type of aircraft (Boeing 737) with a seat pitch of 32 (common, but a bit tight if you’re as tall as I am), they do include some core services in the price. On line cancellation, date modification (conditional), check-in and seat choice is always offered and a checked bag is included in the price. If you always fly with luggage, that alone can double the price you could pay on a carrier like Ryanair who are consistently rated by consumer organisations and travel magazines as having low quality service without always offering the lowest fares to a typical passenger who wants to travel with more than the clothes on his back and a small carry-on bag.
Please sir, I’d like some more
I flew from Nice to Copenhagen with Transavia last year and found it more than adequate. The Amsterdam trip was no different - on time, comfortable and affordable travel to a principle airport like Schiphol, rather than a distant secondary one.
Transavia fly daily from Nice to Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Copenhagen. With Sterling no longer in the running I’d like to see this low-cost, respectable-service carrier offer a few more northern destinations from Nice. Oslo and Stockholm come to mind - maybe next year?