Wizz Air, A ‘Bag Encounter’

Wizz

Here’s a post dedicated to an unfortunate encounter at the departure of my trip to Budapest last month with Wizz Air, a Hungarian low cost carrier (LCC) that serves mainly to most parts of Europe. I have flown with other budget airlines on several occasions such as Ryan Air, Easy Jet, and Air Asia but Wizz Air takes the term “budget” to the next level in my opinion. My ultimate mistake in booking Wizz Air was that I assumed it operates like a standard budget airlines. I was wrong. If you are going to fly with Wizz Air, know what you pay for and read through terms and conditions carefully especially with the carriage allowances.

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What screwed me up — The Fare Rules. As on the booking page, it says as the above.

I have to admit that this slipped past me a little. I didn’t take much notice of the baggage measurements because it states one “cabin baggage” can be taken onboard for free. My first thought was that this is similar to other LCCs carriage terms and didn’t think much of what small cabin bags would be apart from a small pulley. Naturally, I omitted the remaining part of the sentences and went ahead to book a return ticket for £82 without any check-in baggages.

Here comes…

Off I went to Luton Airport with a small pulley cabin bag plus a mini rucksack. While queueing up at the check-in desks, I was asked to fit my bags into a block of steel to measure the sizes. They had two blocks: a small cabin size and a large cabin size. My small pulley bag (it’s smaller than the standard ones) only managed to fit just right into the large block, while my other small rucksack fits into the small block. Wizz Air airport staffs then informed that I hadn’t paid to carry a cabin bag onboard for my ticket and for that, they will have to charge me an additional £42 per pulley bag on this first flight leg to carry onboard, and another £42 per bag on the return trip (or £12 if done online), AND the rucksack will have to fit into the pulley bag as each passenger is allowed only one bag onboard, however small it may be. I refused and argued on how misleading the terms “free cabin bag” is. For the size they allow the small cabin bags onboard, it should’ve been called a handbag or rucksack, just like other LCCs do, not a cabin bag.

Screwed up right? £84 just to bring a smaller than usual cabin bag onto the plane? It’s not even a check-in baggage fee. All other LCCs permit each passenger one free cabin bag and a handbag or rucksack onboard, and by cabin bag they are the standard sized ones and not categorised into Small and Large as done by Wizz Air. I was furious.

Time was ticking and check-in desk was closing. My partner and I each had one pulley bag and a rucksack. If we had to pay to bring both pulleys onboard, that’ll cost us more than a new return ticket! Paying a fee this much for a supposedly budget trip? No way. I pleaded with the staffs so they would allow us through without the silly charges on this one occasion and also considering our plane was taking off very shortly. All they had to do was attach a paper tag onto our baggages to show that it has passed the protocols, it wouldn’t make any difference beyond this point. Nope, no mercy was given. No assistance in any way, not even when I asked them to inform the staffs at the boarding gate to wait for us as we were going to run to them. All I have repeatedly heard was, “Sorry, there is nothing we can do.” At one point, I asked if they would watch my bags on the floor, opened with items sprawled all over (including passports and purse) so I could chuck water from my bottle away into the bin only few metres away with clear sight and no one else around. A request at this small scale was met with a cold-hearted rejection.

With only 10 minutes before the check-in desks close, I had to open up all four bags and toss whatever is needed into only one pulley and one rucksack. Mind you, this was a winter trip. My partner ran across the departure hall with the other two bags frantically searching for a locker storage service, which he thankfully found one that charges £18 for the entire duration we needed to store.

By storing two bags at the airport and bringing the other two onboard, the total costs we incurred was £72 rather than over £100 to bring all four bags onboard, plus we’d also have to figure out how to fit it all into just two bags just to show we’re carrying only one bag each. Pathetic you say?

 

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We managed to pull-through this hurdle as we ran all the way to the boarding gates and made it just as the doors were closing. I thought a good rest was finally coming by as I boarded the plane. Not quite. To my utter shock and dismay, the front pocket of my seat was broken, partially falling off and obstructing my legs [photo tweeted above]. Did I just pay £84 + £72 charges for this? Yes I did. The thought of requesting to change seats in a full flight was one I wouldn’t be able to deal with after the baggage ordeal. I accepted it as it was and flew uncomfortably.

Moral of the story? You get what you pay for. We all have an idea what traveling budget may be but not entirely until poop happens. After the additional charges, stress, chances of missing the flight, having a broken seat and lasting 4 days with just one small bag of clothes between the two of us in this winter trip, I would certainly change my mind about flying with Wizz Air ever again. I have myself to blame for part of it for lacking the attention to extreme detail and misconception of a ‘free cabin bag’. Lesson learned.

 

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6 Comments

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  1. Sorry to learn about your bad experience; I dislike budget airlines in general, but Wizz sounds worse. That is always how they catch us consumers out – with the small text that few people bother to read. Once my dad signed up to a phone game to win prizes through collecting points; he thought it was free until his credit started running out very fast and he revisited the Terms & Conditions page to find a weekly payment for the game … It’s annoying.

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    • There are always things out there to catch the “gullible” ones. Your dad’s experience isn’t something new, I heard similar stories by one of our friends who USED TO work for a company that makes money from such business practice, horrible. He couldn’t live with it so he quit. I’d suggest checking bank statements frequently for suspicious charges, or if you had to, pay via paypal or credit cards that would have good money back policies.

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  2. Hi! I read your review online and I’m about to book a one way flight, I read all the (bad) reviews, mainly because of baggage things and tickets that aren’t printed out. However, I just read that their dimensions are a cm bigger than Ryanairs, my tiny suitcase was perfect on Ryanair, but would you still suggest checking in that suitcase, to avoid the 35 euro charge instead of 16 online? I would fly with another airline but Wizzair is literally the only one who flies early during the day. We’re flying back with Ryanair!

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    • Hey Naomi, I’m not sure if it is true that their baggage is a little bigger than what is allowed on Ryanair. I travelled with Ryanair 2 years ago with the same cabin bag that I tried to bring onboard WizzAir, which got denied. There’s a steel compartment at the airport to measure if your baggage fits into it. Take note that the only thing they allow onboard for free is the small cabin bag – by small, they mean no more than 42x32x25cm. Any bigger than this, they will charge you the exuberant £42 PER bag at the airport – they call this the large cabin bag. A different rate applies for check-in bag.

      If in doubt, I would highly suggest paying for the baggage fees online, both ways. Also bring your own resealable zip locks for your hand carry liquid items! Good luck with WizzAir!

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  3. The worst is airberlin. I paid 270 euros for the 1 way ticket and then there was a woman and she picked up the bag to weigh it and sent me to go and check it in to the hold. Then I had to cue and they said there was no problem with the bag but this woman was still there and just so rude about it just clearly discriminating against me because of being male alone and whatever sereotype she had of me. I was so annoyed. All very well but 270 euros I should have got proper service. I absolutely hate these pricing model. I always end up paying for peoples flights and often with cash with adds another 50 euros because the cards don’t always work or problems getting them. It should just be a fixed price with last minute discounts if they want to fill seats.

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    • Sorry to hear about your experience with AirBerlin. These budget airlines have a lot of hidden charges, some really extortionate! More examples, not having a paper printed ticket ‘boarding pass’ with Ryan Air will cost you quite a bit, and being charged for physically carrying 2 separate bags on you as hand carry, like a bag pack and a mini hand bag would count as 2 items – weight does not really matter even if both are really light, either you stuff them both into 1 bag, or check in 1 of the bags, which will sometimes cost more than your ‘cheap’ flight ticket. Sadly, we have to carefully read all their fine (and big) prints with these budget airlines.

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