This is our review of a Wizz Air flight from London Luton Airport.
Whilst using points and miles to score premium flights is our bread and butter here at Head for Points, we do occasionally stick our head above the parapet and try out airlines that do not offer loyalty earning opportunities. Rob previously reviewed a £5 Ryanair flight and we often cover easyJet, although its new baggage rules have turned it into Ryanair-lite.
There is a new kid on the block, however. Hungarian airline Wizz Air has been on an aggressive expansion plan across Europe for the past few years and its growth has been unfettered by Covid. It even tried to buy easyJet last year.
The airline has been planting bases across Europe and now has 14 aircraft stationed in the UK, a number which is only likely to increase with the announcement that it will operate 14 routes from Gatwick next summer.
With Wizz Air increasingly challenging both its low cost carrier rivals as well British Airways we thought it was worth taking a look at what they had to offer.
When Wizz launched a sale with one-way flights for £1.79 last month we figured now was the time to do it!
Let’s be clear – £1.79 is completely unsustainable for Wizz Air. Air Passenger Duty alone – the tax Wizz Air pays the UK government to depart the UK – is £13 alone, before you factor in the cost of the airport charges, fuel and staffing costs etc etc.
You will not find flights for £1.79 on a regular basis. This is a marketing cost for Wizz Air, which uses such low pricing to gain favourable press coverage and sell tickets to passengers that it can – it hopes – up-sell.
Even during the recent sale, £1.79 fares were limited to Bacău, Bucharest and Vienna (Bacău is a city in Romania). You are not exactly spoiled for choice – Vienna is the most traditionally touristy city on that list.
£1.79 Wizz Air flights were easy to find, hard to buy
To Wizz Air’s credit, these tickets were not difficult to find. I popped in some random travel dates in January and quickly found seats available.
The booking engine suggests these are Wizz Discount Club prices (membership starts at £26 per year) but click through and the same price was available for non-Club customers.
This is where the fun begins, however. Like all low cost carriers, Wizz Air hopes it can up-sell you on a myriad different add-ons in the hope of eking out some profit. I have seen few airlines, not even Ryanair, take it to quite the extremes that Wizz Air does. You need a PhD to avoid one of the many ‘traps’ that Wizz Air sets for you.
First off is deciding whether you want to proceed with the ‘basic’ fare or whether you want to upgrade to Wizz Go or Wizz Flex, both of which bundle a range of luggage, seat selection and other benefits. The cheapest option is, quite naturally, the least eye-catching.
You are then asked whether you want to pay for Wizz Flex for £8, which lets you change your flights or ask for a refund if you cancel your booking:
On the next page, you are asked whether you want to subscribe for Privilege Pass, “your annual pass to hassle free travel for £171.50/year!” It’s not entirely clear what Privilege Pass is, although I imagine it is similar to easyJet Plus.
Next up are your baggage options. You can choose between 10kg (£26 one way) or 20kg (£34.50) or 32kg (£44) checked luggage. Note that, by default, Wizz Air only lets you take a small backpack / laptop bag / purse on board for free that fits under the seat in front of you. If you want to opt out you must tick the check box:
If you want to take a larger trolley bag on board with you then the only way to do so is by paying for Wizz Priority (£21.50):
As I was trying to get the cheapest ticket possible I opted for the free carry on bag option.
You are then asked (again) whether you would like to upgrade to Wizz Go:
Seat selection is next. There is NO free seat selection with Wizz Air, at any time. You either pay for a selected seat or you are told where you are sitting at check in. By default, Wizz Air wants to charge you £6 for some middle-of-the-plane seats:
Extra legroom seats, in the exit rows and row 1, cost £10. To avoid paying for seat selection you must choose the option to choose seats later, even if you have no intention of choosing seats later.
Once you have got through seating you can click through to the next page. Surely the up-sells must end here? Oh no! There’s more. Surely you didn’t expect Wizz Air to let you off lightly, did you?! You can now choose to add even more services:
- Wizz Priority (again) – £21.50 one way and gets you a free trolley bag on board and priority check-in
- Auto Check In – £1.50, automatically checks you in 50 hours before departure and sends you your boarding pass so you don’t have to do it
- Airport Check In – normally, you must pay extra to check in at the airport. However, due to current covid document checks this is a free option.
- Airport Transfer – from £7.75
- Travel Insurance – between £4.32 PER DAY for a 3 day trip and £0.85 for a 30 day trip
After this you are once again offered the opportunity to join Wizz Discount Club:
You have now finally made it to the payment page. But wait! First you need to turn down ANOTHER opportunity to turn down travel insurance.
Fortunately that really is the last one. You can now book and pay for your flight – congratulations for making it this far! You have successfully turned down 13 up-sells. Here is the breakdown of my ticket:
As you can see, the flight itself costs only 14p whilst Wizz Air’s usual £7.50 administration fee has been steeply discounted. Nonetheless, as mentioned above, even £7.50 isn’t enough to cover the basic costs of operating this flight.
To see how the flight turned out, click here to read Part 2 of my Wizz Air review.
Head for Points made a financial contribution to the Woodland Trust as part of this trip. The Woodland Trust creates and manages forests in the UK in accordance with the Woodland Carbon Code.