EasyJet mulls check-in closures as it launches new route

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EasyJet is considering plans to shut airport desks to encourage more online check-in, according to reports.

News of the plans emerged as the no-frills carrier prepared to launch new flights to the Norwegian port city of Bergen from Gatwick in May.

Confirmation of the new route – previously flown by Bmi from Heathrow before its takeover by British Airways parent International Airlines Group – comes a month after easyJet announced increased services between Gatwick and Copenhagen, from three to four flights a day.

The airline’s flights to Bergen, with fares starting at £35.49 one way including taxes, will mean the airline will be serving two Scandinavian cities from four destinations in the UK – Gatwick, Bristol, Edinburgh and Manchester.

The new route, being announced in Bergen on Monday morning, comes as easyJet plans to replace airport check-in desks for passengers travelling with checked luggage from April 30.

The desks will be replaced by bag-drop desks. Passengers who forget to check in online will still be able to do so at the airport free of charge, but it is hoped the facility will only be used in "exceptional circumstances."

No-frills rival Ryanair abolished check-in desks in 2009 and currently charges passengers £70 ($A102) per person at the airport if they do not check in online, or if they fail to print out their boarding pass.

An easyJet spokesman said an unspecified "transition period" would give passengers time to adapt to the new policy, but claimed that no plans were in place to charge a similar fee if they forget to check in online, or to print their boarding pass.

"We try to be a bit more customer friendly than Ryanair, and hope passengers choose to check-in online without the threat of punitive charges," said spokesman told?the Daily Telegraph.

"EasyJet is always looking to make travel easier and more affordable. Online check in has proved popular with passengers, for whom it saves time queuing at the airport, and has helped easyJet keep its costs, and therefore its fares, low."

He added that 80% of passengers already choose to check in online, and that the move was aimed at making the airport journey quicker for all.

The airline charges customers £25 to travel with a single piece of hold baggage.

Norway will become the 33rd country served by the airline which expects to carry more than 100,000 passengers between Norway and the UK a year.

UK director Paul Simmons said: “The addition of Bergen will see easyJet flying more than 500,000 passengers between the UK and Scandinavia, and will take the total number of routes served from Gatwick to 101 across 27 countries.”

Mayor of Bergen Trude Drevland said: “Bergen is well known as the Gateway to the fjords of Norway and we are looking forward to welcoming thousands of tourists to our beauti