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Cabin Crew Blog - Changing perceptions

Ryan McMahon, Cabin Manager (MAN)

Manchester Cabin Manager, Ryan McMahon, who joined easyJet back in 2008 talks through the transformation process over the past 8 years and how easyJet has  altered the perception of low-cost carriers.

I came to easyJet when it had well and truly begun to turn Europe Orange and regarded itself as a pan-European carrier. Nothing has changed in that respect, today we carry 70 million passengers a year, operate over 800 routes across more than 30 countries and a staggering 300 million people live within an hour’s drive of an easyJet airport!

It was exciting; whilst still faithful to our low-cost values, we had started to mature. Warranted or not, we had to shake off some of the myths and perceptions of low-cost carriers and highlight the excellent service that our crew and airline offered. In the words of our then CEO, it was all about “low cost with care and convenience”. Many regarded it as the ‘coming of age’ of easyJet, and legacy carriers had to stand up and listen as we began competing head to head with them on more and more of Europe’s most popular city pairs. To our passengers, the most obvious sign of a new era was the new ‘formal and fabulous’ uniform. Gone were the polo shirts and orange gilets; our crew now looked more professional and customer focused.

The arrival of our current CEO, Carolyn McCall, in 2010 saw another major step change. As a champion of easyJet in her past life, she arrived with a clear goal: to make easyJet Europe’s preferred short-haul airline. Part of this transformation was to improve the end-to-end travel experience for our customers. Though it wasn’t universally disliked, our free seating policy caused anxiety for some of our customers who wanted to ensure they could sit together. To progress in our mission to make travel easy and affordable, easyJet introduced allocated seating for all passengers. Today, allocated seating has minimal impact on our aircraft turnarounds, meaning that we can still operate efficiently and for a small fee you can even chose the exact seat that you want. Our passengers love it!

Allocated seating wasn’t the only way we could improve the passenger experience. There needed to be a consistent product that could be promoted to our customers, so we developed the easyJet customer charter which is made up of five fundamental promises. Firstly, we never compromise on safety, it’s our highest priority. We always see things from the customers’ point of view and deliver service with a smile. We make the customer journey as easy as possible at every step and we will always be honest. As someone who was involved in promoting the charter to my colleagues, it was extremely rewarding to have been part of a small team of crew from Manchester who won the 2012 Spirit of easyJet award, the ultimate accolade within the airline.

We’d already made big steps towards making travel easy but we had to evolve alongside our customers’ changing needs. As a result, the easyJet App was launched in 2012, which lets you book flights, track easyJet aircraft in real-time, and access your boarding pass on your smart phone. Today, 200,000 people use mobile boarding passes per week!

As our market presence has evolved, so has our product offering. We launched a FLEXI fare to suit our business travellers’ needs, offering great benefits and flexibility at a low cost. We also offer upfront and extra legroom seating for those who want to pay for it, and they may also bring an additional cabin bag on board. Our marketing has also matured in recent years. While the easyJet adverts of the early years often raised eyebrows, today we showcase our vibrant brand, evoking memories of past holidays and inspiring future travel.

There have been many changes in the 8 years that I have been at easyJet, and while there are many low-cost carriers operating today, easyJet has a unique ‘One Team’ spirit that cannot be matched. Engineers, Pilots, Crew, Operations and Management work together on the daily operation. From a crew perspective, there is a strong sense of pride that is felt working for easyJet, and it is a genuine pleasure to work with some fantastic colleagues. easyJet led the way in making travel easy and affordable for millions of people across Europe and it’s a privilege to have played a small part in the journey while doing a job that I love.

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