N.B. Apologies in advance for this being such a long review, but I have a lot of details to share about the Special Assistance service and my experience of using it. I hope this will be helpful for others with health or mobility issues. INTRODUCTION I know everyone and their dog has written a review ... of Easyjet, but I thought I should write one as I have a more unusual perspective on the airline's customer service.
I suffer from Hypermobility Syndrome, a joint condition which can leave me in a lot of pain on 'bad' days, but has minimal impact on my life on 'good' days. On a 'bad' day I can have a lot of pain in my hips and need to walk with a stick, and also have a TENS (nerve-signal blocker) machine to help me get around and also sit more comfortably for longer periods. The TENS machine is only about the size of a cigarette packet but it is connected to me by means of four electrodes stuck to my back.
Last month Hubby and I were booked on Easyjet flights from Newcastle to Barcelona and back. We were going to be away for a week and were expecting to do a lot of walking and scrambling around Roman ruins. I knew I'd definitely need my stick on the holiday and probably need my TENS machine too.
My hips can get especially painful when having to stop/start or shuffle forward slowly, especially when queueing. I knew that this would be inevitable at the airport as security and boarding queues can be long and slow-moving. I was getting worried, as I know how paranoid airport security can be about unusual electronic devices (especially with electrodes and wires attached!) and metal walking sticks so I decided to give Easyjet a call to see what could be done to help me.
In all of the emails Easyjet sent me about our flight was a little button labelled 'special assistance' which, when clicked on, led to an information page with lots of clickable links about how Easyjet can help travellers with a variety of medical conditions, mobility problems and also pregnancy. Easyjet ask that if you're going to require special assistance they need to know about it at least 48 hours before you fly. The page can also be accessed through Easyjet's homepage, by scrolling to the bottom of the page, clicking on 'help' under the Customer Service heading and then clicking on the big, orange Special Assistance Team link.
Unfortunately, 'metal walking sticks' and 'TENS machines' weren't covered on the (very detailed) information page so I decided to give Easyjet a call a couple of weeks before our flight, just to check I'd be allowed to take both devices on board with me. Checking them in wouldn't be an option as (a) I may well need them while in the airports and while flying and (b) we were flying carry-on luggage only to save money.
SPECIAL ASSISTANCE: TELEPHONE CONVERSATION #1
The website page included a link to a further page with information about contacting the Special Assistance team including a phone number which, from the UK, is 0800 998 1130. I knew that I had some complicated questions to ask so talking to a human was preferable to writing a monster email to them with no knowledge of how long a reply would take. I was really pleased that the number is a freephone number as I knew it could potentially be a long phone call, and airlines are notorious for using premium rate phone numbers.
The Special Assistance line is open 8am-8pm seven days a week. I rang them mid-afternoon on a Sunday, which I expected to be a quiet time. The phone was picked up quickly by a gentleman who, to my trained ear (I'm a language teacher) was a Spanish native-speaker. His English was very good but he was a bit confused as I asked him if I could get permission to take my metal walking stick and TENS machine on board my flight. After explaining more carefully, he said that I would be able to take both, and that he had made a note on my flight booking to say I could take them through airport security too. He stated that any documentation I had to prove my condition would be useful and should be shown at the airport. He was very pleasant, but I was a bit concerned that my information hadn't been fully understood and decided to double-check my request was on the system before I actually flew.
SPECIAL ASSISTANCE: TELEPHONE CONVERSATION #2
A couple of days before my flight I called the number again. This time I spoke to a woman, another native Spanish speaker but with very good English. She confirmed that my request to use my TENS machine and stick was on the system. But then, to my surprise, she asked me if I needed any more support getting through Newcastle and Barcelona airports. I explained that I have good and bad days, and that as long as I could have my equipment I should be fine.
But then she said to me that, whilst she didn't know about Newcastle airport, Barcelona airport was very large with long stretches of walking needed to get from place to place. She said that in view of my condition she would recommend I had a full 'special assistance' note on my booking, as that would enable me to get escorted through a fast-track system through the airport and onto the plane. She also said I could have a wheelchair at the airport and that I wouldn't need to climb up the steps on to the plane itself. She also said that if I didn't need it on the day that it was fine to cancel it, but that it may well make life easier for me.
I decided to play it safe and book the full special assistance.
She told me that becaused I had gone forward with full help, that my seat reservation fees for both my flights and Hubby's would be refunded (£12 back on my credit card!) and that when I arrived at the airport I should present myself at the Easyjet desk to start the assistance procedure rolling.
I was on the phone to her for a good 20 minutes. This woman was polite, professional, friendly and extremely helpful!
USING SPECIAL ASSISTANCE
And so to the day of the flight! As it turned out, the day was a 'bad' day, probably due to the damp and cool conditions. By the time we got to Newcastle airport my hips were hurting badly and I was pleased to be able to sit down. Whilst I could have got through the airport and onto the plane with just my stick I would have been in a lot of pain, so I decided to use the assistance option. I spoke to the staff at the Easyjet desk, and they gave me a special note to give to the general airport assistance desk. From there I waited around 5 minutes, an airport steward came through with a wheelchair for me and pushed me and my carry-on suitcase, through the airport, past the security line and straight to the security x-ray machines. I only had to get out of the 'chair for a security pat down, and my stick was x-rayed, but no-one batted an eyelid at my TENS machine.
Hubby was allowed to be with me every step of the way so we didn't have to be separated, which was really nice.
After being wheeled to the gate, around 20 minutes before the flight I and a few other Special Assistance users were escorted into a special van which trundled us out to the plane, and then rose up on a special scissor-structure to attach to one of the plane doors, the one opposite to the one everybody else had used with steps attached. I was then able to walk straight onto the plane with my stick.
Easyjet staff on the flight were really helpful, with the steward assigned to my part of the plane making sure my stick didn't get damaged in the locker above my seat.
The plane ride was uneventful, and, on landing in Barcelona, I and the other Special Assistance people had to wait on the plane for about 10 minutes after all the other passengers had disembarked while another special van was brought to the plane door. The Easyjet staff were very friendly and nice, but they were busy cleaning the plain around us (picking up rubbish from seats etc) which made me feel I was a bit in the way. Then the whole procedure that happened at Newcastle was repeated, but this time in reverse. An airport steward took me through to the edge of the airport in a wheelchair, again with Hubby following, leaving me feeling well-rested and in minimal pain, ready to start my holiday!
At the end of the holiday, the whole process was repeated again, with helpful Easyjet and airport staff, wheelchairs, special vans and no stress for me!
In conclusion I was really impressed with the Special Assistance procedure with both Easyjet and airport staff being really helpful, friendly and nice, but what struck me more than anything was the helpfulness of the woman I spoke to at Easyjet on my second phone call. Without her advice I would have probably struggled on through the airports and, of course, I wouldn't have had my seat booking fees refunded!
It's a shame the man in the first phone call to Easyjet wasn't quite so helpful, but he still put my mobility equipment information on my booking, which was all I asked of him.
I would have no hesitation in recommending Easyjet's Special Assistance programme, but the quality of pro-active advice from their staff seemed to vary. Both call centre staff had good English, although I may be biased as I'm so used to talking to people who have English as a second language. I think some people may have had problems making themselves understood, especially to the first man I spoke to, so I would suggest people needing to use the service make themselves fully aware of what help is available.
The Easyjet flight crew seemed very used to dealing with people with mobility problems and were helpful and friendly. It was a shame they had to clean up around me while I waited for my lift off the plane, but I know Easyjet have super-tight turnaround times so this wasn't the fault of the staff, rather the airline's policy.
I will definitely use Easyjet's Special Assistance Programme again if I need to as it made my holiday a much less stressful experience!
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Malaysian Airlines. Recently we had to attend a wedding in Malaysia and after looking at all the options available chose to fly with Air Malaysia. Air Malaysia is the state run airline of Malaysia which has been operating since 1947 when it was initially called Malayan Airlines. It has had several name changes over the years ... from Malaysian airline system to its current name. It also runs two subsidiary airlines that are mainly internal operators flying throughout Malaysia and short haul routes, they are called Firefly and MASwings plus their cargo wing called MASkargo. In total they operate 100 aircraft including 6 new A380 double decker airbuses and fly to 61 destinations worldwide.
Malaysian airlines have a fairly good website where you can book your flight and make enquiries. It is quite easy to navigate and is simple to use. All you need to do is type in your departure airport and the dates and class in which you want to travel and it will show you the options available for those dates. There are two flights a day to and from London Heathrow airport to Kuala Lumpa one in the morning and one at night operating out of terminal four and a couple of options from Kuala Lumpa to Penang. We chose a morning flight which was the most convenient for us. Both flights from London are on the Airbus A380 which is the double decked airbus. We were also allocated our seats for all legs of the trip which meant that we did not have to worry about checking in until we got to the airport. You can check in on line prior to arrival at the airport and print off your tickets but I did not bother with this. We just turned up and checked in.
Confirmation is sent by email once you have booked your flights and all bookings are by e ticket so no actual ticket is issued. All you need to do is turn up at the airport and show your passport and your boarding cards are issued. For British Passport holders there are no visa requirements for Malaysia as long as you are staying for under 30 days.
At the airport and check in.
Check in opens around 3-4 hours before the flight and it was fairly relaxed and quite straightforward. On presentation of our passports we were booked in and managed to get my sister in law moved to sit with us as I had booked her ticket about three weeks after I had booked ours. They were quite accommodating at check in. You are asked to bring the bank card with you to the airport which we did but was not asked for it but it is worth bearing in mind that you should have the card with you in case they ask for it.
The check in lady booked our suitcases all the way through to Penang so once they flew off on the conveyer belt that was the last we saw of them thankfully. There is always a niggling worry that they may not arrive at your destination. We always pack half and half of our stuff in each others cases just in case one of the cases goes walkabout. However all cases turned up in Penang as have most of our cases.
So in summary check in was a breeze. We were also issued with our boarding cards for the internal flight between Kuala Lumpa and Penang. We then proceeded through security and immigration to airside.
From a coffee lounge at terminal four we could see our plane being prepared across the airfield at a separate hanger. We watched as food and other supplies were being loaded . You would think that being a double decker the plane would look absolutely massive but actually it does not look that much different to a 747 albeit without the dome shape at the front. It looks quite neat. Once loaded and serviced the plane made its way across from the hanger to the departure lounge at Terminal four and shortly after we started to board.
You would think that boarding would take quite some time bearing in mind there are 492 passengers to board but it was well organised and seemed to take little time to get on the plane. There were two queues one for passengers sitting on the lower deck and one for the upper deck. Before we long we were sitting in our seats after being welcomed on board by smiling sarong clad cabin crew. There was plenty of space to store luggage in the overhead lockers and there was enough room to put smaller bags underneath the seat in front.
After a pre-flight safety announcement which was shown on the screen in the seat in front while we taxied to the runway we were on the runway and ready for take-off. The tv screen then changed to the view of the plane from the cameras on the tail which gave us a view of the whole of the plane and the runway ahead so we could actually watch the take-off which I thought was brilliant. The take off was very smooth and once airborne and at cruising speed the noise of the engines were barely noticeable. It really is a quiet and comfortable aircraft and there were no noticeable droning sounds from the engines for the whole flight.
I actually found the seating quite comfortable and had been dreading the 12 and a half hour flight but to be honest I found the seats quite comfortable although I must admit I was ready to get off the plane once we landed just to stretch our legs and give some relief to our rears. I thought the seat was much more comfortable than the seats on Singapore airlines which were terribly hard. I still had bad memories of that 14 hour flight and had taken air cushions with me which actually never came out of my carryon bag. On the seats there was a blanket and a set of ear phones for the entertainment system.
The seats also contained plugs for the ear phones which were in the arms rests. The arm rests could be raised to give you a bit more space to move. The seats were also able to be eased back at an angle and thankfully for me I had a child sitting in front of me and one behind so I did not have any problem putting my seat back without worrying if it was encroaching on the passenger behind personal space. The head rest could also be moved higher and the cushion could be folded out to make it even more comfortable.
Right in front of you there is a touch screen television which also had a usb socket on it so you could charge or watch anything on the screen you had on your own devices.
Sitting up is not the most comfortable way to catch some sleep ( not including my wife who could sleep sitting on a washing line) however we managed to get a couple of hours. Ahead of us over the top of the screen you could see the mood lighting in business class which looked really nice. It slowly changed from purple to orange and the lights gradually came on and bright. Not for us lucky souls sitting in economy. All of a sudden they whacked the bright lights on which made you squint your eyes and was blooming uncomfortable. I can see no reason why this could not have been introduced throughout the whole cabin. Of course in first and business class the seats turn into fully flat beds unlike in economy but I must say that they seat was fairly comfortable as far as an economy seat goes.
There is a wide selection of new films and favourite films available to view. The new films are changed every month and what was typical I had seen a film that was on the system for August which I would have found interesting but as we travelled in September the film choices changed and there were no films that took my fancy. I thought I might have liked Philieas Fogg around the world in 80 days but it was a daft comedy type film and after about 10 minutes of really trying to get into it I lost the will to live and turned it off. There were television programmes available but were American shows which I cannot stand and some documentaries. There was a wide selection of films in Chinese with English subtitles and plenty of Indian films in different Indian languages as well as Japanese and Arabic films too. There was a selection of childrens programmes and films and a good selection of games too.
There was also a great music selection ranging from rock to pop country to classical and easy listening music. I spent most of the flight listening to music while watching the progress of the flight on the screen. I also had my ipad with me which I used for part of the trip to listen to music which I usually use anyway so with the great selection there is something to please everyone.
We were served a snack of peanuts and drinks which was repeated twice and then dinner. The food service was very nice indeed even in economy I actually enjoyed the meal. The food was Malaysian style food and consisted of noodles or rice based and of course the inevitable chicken or beef. We were served two meals. The second meal threw me into a bit of confusion as I was not quite sure what meal we were eating. Bearing in mind it was nearly midnight UK time the meal consisted of a prawn curry type dish with rice (Sambal Udang) there was also fruit and yoghurt and fruit juice and a muffin. Yes you guessed it was breakfast however saying that the Sambal udang was actually very tasty if somewhat hot.
We arrived and disembarked quite quickly and had to go to another terminal to take our onward flight. After the very long flight and feeling very tired we found the airport confusing and found the signage poor and some of the staff quite unhelpful even at the information desk the staff didn't smile and one of the girls was actually quite rude. Thankfully one of the airport police women who happened to be passing us helped us find the lift and showed us where to take the transfer train.
Our arrival in Penang was good after the hour long flight we were absolutely jaded. Thankfully I had arranged for us to be met and picked up and a lady was there to guide us to our waiting car.
I thought Malaysian airlines were really good. The service was good the flight comfortable and the cabin crew excellent. However the ground crew in KL were rude and not very helpful but overall we had a brilliant flight and I would definitely fly with Malaysia airlines again and I am already planning my next trip using Malaysian airlines. It certainly deserves its five star rating. I would advise trying to get a seat on the upper deck as it is generally quieter and less hectic.
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We flew with Monarch airlines two weeks ago from Birmingham to Faro (Portugal). About Monarch ------------------- Monarch have been flying since about the 60's so they've been doing it a long time. We discovered that my mum and dad had a monarch plane on their honeymoon in 1973 they have a picture of it on the ... runway!
They are a British company offering flights to the Med, Egypt, Greece, Europe and some flights to America.
Well this could be viewed positive or negative!! On the way out from Birmingham we were due to fly at 6.20am. we boarded the plane in the dark and sat down. No sooner had we sat down than the Captain came on and said that unfortunately the final checks had just picked up a brake fluid leak in the landing wheel, so this plane won't be going anywhere today! It was a mixture of annoyance and also relief that we hadn't taken off. This is why it can be viewed in two ways, anything could have happened up in the air and at least we were still on the ground and what a good job the ground staff did in picking up the problem. We all got off and had to go back into departures, I did feel sad at this point as we'd only gone for a long weekend for 3 nights! at first there was a lack of information so the board said update at 7am, then at 7am it said update at 8am. My husband went to ask for more information around 8am and was told that something had been sorted and that we'd be boarding another plane at 9.30am. We were given £5 food and drinks voucher per person to use in any of the departure lounge restaurants or on the plane. At 9.20 we were able to go through to boarding, it was in a different bay and was a Titan plane. So we flew outbound with the Titan staff and their team (will review under Titan). The Captain came on and said on behalf of Monarch airways their appologies, that this plane had been on standby and Stansted and been flown up to Birmingham, there was no food on board but being a short flight that wasn't too bad. The staff were lovely and we arrived in Faro 3hrs later in a thunderstorm!
Home bound we flew with Monarch from Faro, the flight was on time and we boarded without any problems. Details below;
Unfortunately I cannot comment on cost as it was a package holiday, I believe they're reasonable - not high quality but not budget.
We found the staff to be extremely helpful and friendly.
The cabin was ok, it was a bit tatty and dated, the seats as on all these types of flights were close together and going to the toilet was a challenge to squeeze past people who decide to stand in the isle!! The toilet wasn't particularly nice.
In flight service
The inflight service was good there was plenty of drinks and food to choose from to eat, small cans of pop were around £1.25 and the crisps/chocolates were around the same, there were plenty of deals too like buy a muffin and drink for £3. Hot drinks were lovely I had a cadbury's hot chocolate, that was £2.50. The alcohol was in small little bottles I'm really sorry I forgot to note the price as we didn't buy any! The staff were helpful and friendly and took away all the empties.
Not having flown all that often, for me it was overall a good experience, mixed because like I say good that they picked up the problem before flying but a shame it hadn't been detected before we boarded.
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This is the Latvian national airline and is based in Riga.
Airline / AIr taxi service flying to islands in located in the Indian Ocean
Airline / It is based in Christchurch and currently operates low-fare air services within New Zealand, between New Zealand and Australia, and Australia to south Asia.
A low cost airline based in Mexico City, Mexico providing services in North, Central and South America
A regional airline based in Dublin, Ireland operating scheduled service for 40 different routes between Ireland, France, and the United Kingdom.
IATA: DL, ICAO: DAL / The company is based in Atlanta, Georgia and is the only American airline that flies to all continents, Antarctica excluded.
Etihad Airways is the flag carrier airline of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
A low-cost airline based in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. Airport Code: IATA: G9, ICAO: ABY
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