One of Europe’s biggest low-cost carriers, EasyJet, announced a partnership with two other airlines last week in a codeshare-style relationship.
Called Worldwide by EasyJet, the partnership allows EasyJet customers to book and connect to flights on low-cost carriers Norwegian and WestJet, of Canada. One of EasyJet’s competitors, Ryanair, also has been considering a similar model.
EasyJet provides a broad network of low-cost flights from London’s Luton and Gatwick airports. Neither Norwegian nor WestJet flies long-haul routes to Luton, but both carriers expect to transfer passengers to EasyJet at Gatwick, where they can connect to smaller European markets. According to the announcement, EasyJet plans to add more airports and airlines to the program.
Passengers may research and purchase connecting flights through an EasyJet booking engine, which launched last week.
As to the depth of the relationship, the cooperation seems to stop after the booking is made. Traditionally, airlines use codeshare agreements to collaborate on sharing passengers. The agreements usually allow passengers to seamlessly connect between two partner carriers so they virtually fly on the same airline.
American Airlines, for example, might offer customers the ability to connect in London to British Airways, another member of the Oneworld alliance, on a codeshare flight. In this situation, passengers would make a simple booking with American flight numbers on all legs. They would know their luggage would be transferred between the airlines, and they would receive frequent flyer credit for each leg.
Worldwide by EasyJet doesn’t seem to provide those benefits. Instead, the booking engine simply finds compatible flights with reasonable layovers, and books the package together.
EasyJet markets this as a benefit, calling the relationship simpler and easier to understand. And since EasyJet does not have a traditional loyalty program — EasyJet Plus members must pay for their perks — that’s partially true. But without a tighter ticketing model and baggage transfer benefits, passengers booking connecting flights may find difficulty when flights are missed or irregular operations impact airports.
Networked flights also don’t always price out beneficially. When Worldwide by EasyJet launched, The Points Guy mapped out several itineraries that cost more when booked together than when booked through each carrier’s site.
Still, despite the complexity around pricing and ticketing, the model may be a useful tool to help long-haul low-cost carriers against legacy carriers, as the big airlines create special no-frills airlines, such as Eurowings, to try to compete.
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