Finance

Short cuts: US ski resorts let the wealthy pay to jump the queue — plus easyJet’s first lounge


Park City, Utah Powdr, the Utah-based ski resort operator, has prompted widespread criticism with the introduction of a system in which skiers can pay extra to jump lift queues. Announcing Fast Tracks, an “upgradeable express lift access experience to maximise guests’ time on-mountain”, the company said the ski industry had been slow to embrace the idea of providing paid-for “upgrades”. Tickets will go on sale from November 1 at four of Powdr’s 11 North American resorts: Mount Bachelor, Snowbird, Killington and Copper Mountain. Prices start at $49 ($69 at Snowbird) in addition to the cost of the lift pass, with the price rising further at peak times.

Skiers were quick to voice their disapproval. In Bend, Oregon, the closest town to Mount Bachelor, locals started a petition that called the move “sociopathic” and had, by Wednesday this week, attracted more than 12,000 signatures. Ron Wyden, US Senator for Oregon, then wrote to Powdr asking it to abandon the proposal, saying: “A two-tiered system of access to public lands based on financial ability is antithetical to equity in the outdoors, leaving those who cannot afford to pay for the pass being literally sent to the back of the line.” Instead, Powdr doubled down on its plan, saying existing season pass holders who objected to the idea could apply for a refund. powdr.com

EasyJet’s new Gateway lounge at Gatwick’s North Terminal

London The dividing lines between budget and legacy carriers have become increasingly blurred in recent years, as traditional airlines “unbundle” benefits such as free luggage allowances, seat reservations and onboard catering. Now easyJet, Europe’s second-largest low-cost airline, is pushing further into the flag-carriers’ territory by unveiling its first airport lounge.

The Gateway, at Gatwick’s North Terminal, opened last week, offering hot and cold food, beer, wine and hot drinks, alongside work spaces with charging points and free WiFi. Entry can be booked online as an extra, or paid for at the door, with prices from £18.50 for one hour, £32 for three hours. The lounge is open from 6am to 6pm and is a collaboration with No1 Lounges, which operates shared-use lounges at six UK airports.

“The launch is timely as we are seeing the recovery begin in the UK, not only for leisure travel where winter sun destinations are proving popular once again, but for business travellers too,” says Rachael Smith, proposition and innovation director for easyJet. easyjet.com

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