“Do I not like orange”, so said former England football manager Graham Taylor following a controversial and harrowing defeat at the hands of the orange clad Dutch in late 1993.
Two years later the orange airline was born, 25-years ago yesterday in fact. They started out as an irritant to the established flag carriers and were openly derided by the fat cat elite who were used to having their own way. Do I like orange!
Their first route used a chartered plane to go from Luton to Glasgow. Edinburgh soon followed, and soon after Nice & Amsterdam. Like all airlines they are suffering during these toughest of times, but are now the UK’s largest with dozens of routes and hubs across Europe.
British Airways unsuccessfully even tried to copy their model with a low-cost airline named Go, but for all intents and purposes they now run a very similar business plan, certainly for short-haul flights. If you can’t beat them, join them!
I first flew easyJet in 1998 after they launched a flight from Luton to Athens. It was the early stages of a relationship I had started with a Greek lady. We have now been married for twenty-years and easyJet and I have to thank the orange airline for enabling me to afford to visit twice a month back then.
The routine was pretty much leave work on Friday evening, get a train to Luton and then a bus to the airport to catch the 22.55 flight to the rundown old Athens airport, arriving at the unearthly hour of 03.30. I would be with my beloved by 04.30 after a rip-off taxi ride.
36-hours or so later I would start my return journey and arrive back home in London by about 11pm. A whirlwind trip but at less than £80 return it was affordable and very much worth it.
They have of course been paramount in transforming air travel, making the weekend break a common joy for millions. I have flown with them well over a hundred times I am sure (including for my honeymoon into Barcelona and home from Madrid), but apart from a fog cancellation to Palma and a five hour delay in a flight to Bologna they have been pretty damned good.
I don’t track flights (as I do overseas train journeys) but reckon I have flown with them to and/or from Amsterdam, Athens, Berlin, Bologna, Budapest, Chania, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Nice, Seville, Barcelona, Madrid, Santiago de Compostela, Valencia, Palma, Lisbon, Cologne, Thessaloniki, Reykjavik, Gdańsk, Warsaw, Krakow, Vienna, Salzburg, Munich, Venice, Milan, Geneva, Zurich, Marseille, Alicante, Corfu, Ljubljana, Prague, Rome, Olbia, Stuttgart, Frankfurt and I am sure others.
Happy Birthday easyJet, I look forward to meeting again soon I hope!