Take Your Seat at easyJet

LONDON -- Starting in November, you'll no longer need to set a world record for the 100-meter dash to ensure you get a seat when flying budget carrier easyJet  (LSE: EZJ.L  ) .

Following a successful trial across 5% of its network this summer, Europe's second-largest low-cost carrier (behind Ryanair  (LSE: RYA.L  ) ) announced that it will put an end to its current system of first-come, first-serve.

In addition to trying to improve customer satisfaction by eliminating the mad dash to the gate, easyJet was measuring its performance during the trial for sustained on-time performance, no negative impact on cost per seat, and its ability to match or exceed its Speedy Boarding revenue stream.

What'll it cost you?
The trial produced satisfactory results in all four areas. And not only did more than 70% of passengers indicate they preferred having an allocated seat, but over 60% said they are more likely to use easyJet in the future because of it.

So what does this mean for me and you? All passengers will be allocated a seat and will have a choice of selecting their seats for a fee when they book. There are three bands:

  • £12 for extra leg room (front row and exit rows) -- and automatic Speedy Boarding pass
  • £8 for seats in the front of the plane
  • £3 for any other seat

Anyone who chooses not to pay to select their seat is given their seat number when they check in.

Carolyn McCall, chief executive of easyJet, said: "This is an example of easyJet trying to do all it can to make travel easy and affordable for our passengers. Our customers asked us to trial allocated seating and we are really pleased with the positive passenger feedback during the trial."

Happy passengers, happy shareholders
In July, easyJet upgraded its profit forecast and said it had benefited from strong demand after a wet start to Britain's summer season. The airline will announce its August traffic numbers on Thursday.

Shares of easyJet are up 60% from a year ago -- valuing the firm at around £2.1 billion (USD $3.34 billion).

The gap between traditional airlines and low-cost carriers continues to narrow -- and easyJet's most recent move is going to put more pressure on competitor Ryanair.

The decision on what airline to fly is far easier than what airline to buy.

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Jill Ralph does not own shares of any company mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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