EASYJET has just launched package holidays to more than 100 of its destinations.
All their trips include a 23kg per person checked luggage as standard, and you can pay a deposit of just £60pp, with the remainder due closer to your departure date.
The airline is clearly hoping to steal some customers from rival British Airways, which sells trips to hundreds of destinations all over the world.
But how do the two compare? And can you save by booking flights and hotel separately?
We spent some time looking at three popular routes – Edinburgh to Athens, Manchester to Barcelona and London to Crete to see whether you can save with easyJet.
How easyJet compares to the alternative
Manchester to Barcelona – travelling February 5 – 7
Monument Hotel, a five-star hotel in the elegant Eixample area of Barcelona, makes a wonderful base for a quick winter-sun citybreak.
But put the trip together yourself, and you could spend the weekend in luxury for £625 in total – just £312pp.
Edinburgh to Athens – travelling April 4 – 7
Acropolis Hill, a modern, new three-star hotel less than 10 minutes’ walk from the Acropolis, makes an ideal base for sightseeing.
But despite its flight requiring a layover in London, BAHolidays was the most expensive at £781 for two people sharing.
EasyJet’s flight was non-stop and came in at £682, while DIY was slightly pricier, at £687.
All three are for a standard double or twin room, with breakfast included.
WINNER: easyJet Holidays
London Gatwick to Crete – travelling May 2 – 9
Bio Suites, a four-star eco-hotel in charming Rethymno, is just 50 metres from a long, sandy beach and has a large pool if you’d rather stay out of the sea.
BAHolidays will sort the flights and hotel for you for £1,038 for two people sharing, including breakfast.
But easyJet isn’t just cheaper at £897 – that price also includes transfers to and from the airport.
It’s a great deal – but not as good as DIY, which trounced them both at £739 for the full week, or £369pp.
The DIY option doesn’t include transfers, but as you’re saving £158, that’s more than enough to pay for your own transfers or hire a car.
How easyJet Holidays scores on hotels
If you’re looking for bargain basement two-star stays, easyJet Holidays wins hands down.
The company has hotels in every price category, but is particularly strong at the bottom end.
But for luxury, it doesn’t rival BA Holidays, which has a much wider selection of five-stars.
When it comes to mid-range, though, they’re pretty even, with plenty of three- and four-stars.
How does easyJet Holiday score on flights?
If you live outside southeast England, then easyJet Holidays will probably suit you better – it has more non-stop flights from a wider variety of UK destinations to Europe.
But BA Holidays typically has better flight times, while easyJet keeps costs low by taking slots at the more unsociable hours – pre-dawn departures and witching-hour arrivals aren’t uncommon.
BA does have departures from airports throughout the UK, but in many cases, you’ll need to do a layover in London, or you’ll be flying with a codeshare airline, such as Vueling.
Perks of booking a package holiday
Both BA and easyJet included 23kg luggage as standard for anyone booking a holiday with them.
If you make a separate flight-only booking, you’ll typically have to pay extra for hold luggage.
And both allow you to pay a deposit at the time of book – £120 for easyJet and generally £150 for BA – then save up the money to pay for the rest of the trip closer to the time of departure. This isn’t an option with DIY trips.
Crucially, a key benefit of booking with both companies is that your trip includes ATOL protection.
ATOL stops you from losing money or becoming stranded abroad if the travel business you’ve booked with collapses.
Given what’s happened with Thomas Cook and other major travel agents, this is increasingly important.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that any travel company based in the UK that offers “flight-plus” holidays – this means you book a flight plus either a hotel, car hire or cruise – must ensure your holiday is ATOL-protected.
You can check if your travel company is registered with ATOL here: caa.co.uk/ATOL-protection.
Is easyJet Holiday cheaper?
On the three trips we checked for the same airports, dates and hotels, easyJet Holidays came out about 11 per cent cheaper on average – and in Crete, it also included transfers, which BA Holidays wanted you to pay £32.50pp extra for.
However, when we compared this against a DIY trip, where you booked the flights and hotels yourself, the winner was DIY.
In two of the three trips, the DIY option was cheaper – in one case, by 17 per cent, although that didn’t include transfers.
However, the savings were so great that it would more than cover the cost of a private transfer or car hire.
So should you book with easyJet Holidays or do it yourself?
If we want to treat ourselves, we’d probably go with BA Holidays because they’ve vetted the hotels and only include the better ones.
While at the budget end, easyJet Holidays does well – but DIY is still the purse-friendly winner.
If there’s not much in it, we’d book with easyJet Holidays for the added ATOL protection. Otherwise, it’s DIY all the way.
But if you take three or more trips a year, it’s usually worth getting an annual travel insurance policy.
Make sure it includes “End Supplier Failure”, and your protection will be almost as good as ATOL’s (you’ll have to pay an excess, but otherwise, it’s usually the same), and then you can DIY all you like with peace of mind.
Earlier this year easyJet scrapped its £16 booking fee so flights were cheaper than ever.
While the airline’s staff previously shared tips that every passenger should know.
Sun Online Travel recently revealed the airlines with the stingiest checked luggage allowances.