EZY, 20, woos lovers, 25

Having transformed Europe’s flying habits since 1995, EasyJet celebrated its 20th birthday at the airline’s Luton HQ today, using it to launch new plans to woo travellers.

Among these is a loyalty system utterly unlike any on offer at the legacy carriers.

It’s by invitation only. If you are a frequent flier EZY knows who you are, your flying habits and has a pretty good idea of why you travel, so it knows what you want. For example, “long distance lovers”.

If you are in that category, your average age is 25, you fly to your lover’s arms eight times a year, and there are no favourite lovers’ routes. As EZY’s press release puts it, “love is all around”. There are some other fascinating categories, but more of that later.

Founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou (now Sir Stelios) was at the party along with chief executive Carolyn McCall, the captain of the first EZY flight Fred Rivett, and Lisa Burger who checked in the first passengers and is now head of customer services.

Stelios and Carolyn

EZY past and present, including Haji-Ioannou and McCall

Lisa said: “I’ll always remember the energy, excitement and hype surrounding our first flight.” Remember everyone had booked then with a personal phone call to the number printed on the aeroplanes.

She continued: ““From day one we began to educate customers how to interact and travel us and that we could make travel more affordable by cutting out complexity, overheads and costs that didn’t add value or that would compromise service.” Stelios himself said he knew it was a risk, and Lisa knew the customers reckoned they should grab the fares on offer before the upstart airline went bust.

McCall and her crews

McCall and her crews at Hangar 89 today

It’s got a fleet of 250 aircraft now, carries more than 60 million passengers a year and still has ambitious expansion plans within Europe. EZY’s trademark cheerful optimism pervaded Hangar 89, its Luton HQ, today.

Apart from separated lovers, here is just a taste of some of the other frequent flier categories EZY wants to nurture:

  • Independent business travellers, av age 43, fly 20 times a year or so, favourite destinations London, Paris, Milan, Geneva, Amsterdam, Berlin, Edinburgh and Lisbon.
  • Second home owners, av age 45, fly five times a year booking six passengers each time, favourite routes UK to Malaga and Faro, Paris to Nice, Geneva to Porto, Berlin to Barcelona.

Other categories include commuters, and those visiting friends and family including expats visiting home, and students or parents separated by time at university.

So what do they get for their loyalty? McCall says they don’t want air miles or Avios that are impossible to redeem on anything they really want, they want an extension of the travel simplicity they already like. The rewards are cost-free booking changes, free traveller name changes, and ticket price promises. All this launches next year.

Also just upstream in the pipeline is a smart new uniform with a bit more class but still a fair amount of orange, incorporating “wearable technology”.

The technology could be LEDs incorporated in seams or hems to make engineers visible on the pan, cabin crew visible leading an evacuation, and embedded video cameras to enable remote engineering inspections.

Cabin crew will have uniform-embedded microphones for in-aircraft communication. And EZY has already launched the idea of drones for aircraft inspection.

There was a refreshing restlessness in the air at Hangar 89 today.

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