Budget airline easyJet has caused controversy by launching a dedicated service for today’s bigger-boned passenger, promising roomy seats, numerous cup holders and a menu boasting the best in foil-sealed freshness.
‘All we’re doing is recognising the growing demand for wide-haul flights,’ said Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, founder of easyJet. ‘Our customers don’t want to be patronised by standard airlines charging them for two seats. We treat all our travellers like grown outs – sorry, grown ups. We give them one big seat at twice the price plus charges. Oh, and insulin. All the insulin they can eat.’
The launch of obeseyJet follows Air France’s recent announcement that it would be charging overweight customers for two seats following an incident in which one overloaded cross-channel flight failed to get airborne and had to be re-branded Sea France. The airline denied that the presence on the ‘flight’ of actor James Cordon was the cause of its difficulties, but admitted that he did inspire the two-seat policy after it proved impossible to sell the seat next to him.
Despite the fanfare accompanying the launch, obeseyJet’s first passengers have reported disappointment with the standard of customer service. ‘Okay, I had a fair bit of luggage,’ said recent flyer, John Prescott, ‘but I couldn’t believe it when they asked me at check-in if I’d forgotten the hotel was full-board.’ The airline has since apologised to Mr Prescott and acknowledged that some customers may need an additional baggage allowance to transport their sun lotion, but it stands by its policy of only allowing a passenger to board the plane from one side when an equally-sized passenger is ready to board from the other.
The arrival of obeseyJet has inevitably sparked competition among other budget carriers, but many industry commentators believe Ryanair has taken the idea too far. CEO Michael O’Leary today unveiled a new ‘pound-for-pound’ charging tariff, confirming it would be extra for each chin, but has been widely criticised after removing lifejackets from its planes in a cost-cutting bid and insisting they were unnecessary for the naturally buoyant.