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What does a £1.79 Wizz Air flight get you? I try it out (Part 1)

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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.

Review Wizz Air flight from Luton

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.

Wizzair £1

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:

Wizz flex

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.

Wizz Privilege Pass

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:

Wizz checked baggage

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):

Wizz cabin baggage

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:

Upgrade 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:

Wizz seat selection

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:

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:

Wizz £1.79 breakdown

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.

Comments (55)

  • Lady London says:

    BA has definitely sold loss-making tickets during Covid. I’m talking about real loss-making tickets where not even the marginal cost of transporting someone has been covered.

    • BlueThroughCrimp says:

      The Manually Loaded Freight could well still make the flight worthwhile.
      Anything the Self Loading Freight makes is a bonus.

    • BlueThroughCrimp says:

      Plus the other leg could well be pulling in money.

  • nerock says:

    Rhys, very nice article, I’m really pleased to see Wizz Air finally covered here in quite some detail! I agree the pricing & service structure is not the simplest to understand but as a Hungarian expat I think I mastered it with over 200 Wizz flights in the last 15 years. I just wanted to call out a few more things I think are important to note.. Wizz uses dynamic pricing not only for the base tickets but also for ancillaries like hold luggage, seat selection or priority boarding (= trolley bag in cabin), typically the longer / busier the flight, the higher the price.. Most of the prices you quote above are for that particular flight you took but it could vary up/down for other flights. There is an overview here however with min/max fees: https://wizzair.com/en-gb/information-and-services/prices-discounts/all-services-fees It is quite well hidden but Wizz Air does provide a very easy by calendar month low fare finder under the Timetable title here https://wizzair.com/en-gb/flights/timetable The Wizz Air Discount Club membership provides you with a 9.99 EUR discount on fares over 19.99 EUR (in practice it also gives a 5 EUR discount on tickets sold at 14.99 EUR) plus an additional 5 EUR discount on hold luggage. Ie. for a couple booking just a single a return flight per year it’s already worth to sign up but the idea is of course to tempt you back to save more.. Sometimes there are promo fares (like the one you picked) whereby Standard / Discount price matches but this is not very common. Lastly, I think what’s really important to note in COVID times is that Wizz Air doesn’t allow for free flight changes (unless your flight is cancelled of course..), you need to purchase Wizz Flex to get that option. Wizz Flex is a product they launched way before COVID started and although it’s not for free, it offers way more than the competition at the time as you can have unlimited flight changes or even a full refund (minus the Wizz Flex fee). It’s also worth noting that with Wizz Flex, when changing your ticket you do pay the fare difference on the base ticket but not for any extras already purchased, such is carried forward by default without re-quoting.

    • Londonsteve says:

      nerock, a superb analysis, nail on head. Like you, I’m probably at 200+ Wizz flights. I tried to put as much business BA’s way when I was Silver but first came the loss of complimentary snacks and drinks, replaced by BoB that ran out by row 15 no matter how desperate you were to spend £25 that day, the last straw was the compacted configuration that offered no more legroom than Wizz across the whole aircraft, including all economy seats fore of the emergency exit rows AND Club. Even paying £100s extra wouldn’t allow you to escape the knee crushing torture of a 29 inch seat pitch. I don’t think Cruz understood the incredible perceived benefit of offering 31″ and a free G’n’T in terms of getting people to pay disproportionately more to fly with BA over an LCC. When you have a quality base like T5, mostly air bridge boarding and hideous PSCs to pay (and charge to the customer), it seems a shame to spoil the on board experience in the way they did. I got the impression they started to run short haul merely to act as a feeder service for their North American routes (Asia having long since been given away to the ME3) with headline grabbing £50 fares sold far in advance to people that would otherwise book an LCC to fill in the gaps.

      • Dan says:

        How did you manage to fly Wizz so much and where to?

        • Londonsteve says:

          Combination of things. A job in the City, parents in London, apartment in Budapest, other half in Sofia and time off in alternative locations that might or might not have been served by Wizz. I’m very grateful not only for their low prices but also their ability to be cheap without being nasty. I never enjoyed a flight with Ryanair, I cannot recall a flight I didn’t enjoy with Wizz. It’s that simple.

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