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Wizz Air: The low-cost airline shaking up Europe

Wizz Air Airplane Take-Off
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If you live in Europe, you’ve probably been bombarded with ads from Wizz Air. This is a Hungarian low-cost carrier that’s expanding its network extensively in the last months and shows no signs of stopping.

Recently, I had to go to Milan (Malpensa or Linate, never Bergamo) on short notice and the prices with my go-to carrier, Austrian Airlines, were less than ideal. Also unlikely my usual trips, I was not in a hurry to reach my destination that day. So I did something I can never do: explore the airports around Vienna. This is how I found my alternative: Budapest-Milan, with Wizz Air.

BUYING YOUR TICKET

Beware and read the fine print carefully: the basic fare allows you to carry only one volume into the cabin. That means that if you are carrying even a small ladies purse, you will have to fit it into your suitcase. I saw literally dozens of women having to stop in the middle of boarding to try and rearrange their hand luggage.

Besides this, if the plane is too full, they will collect your suitcase during boarding and transport it in the hold. So you’d have to wait for it at the belt at your destination or even risk your contents if you are carrying valuables.

Finally, check-in and get your boarding pass online. If you wait to check-in at the airport, they will charge you a fee that might cost you more than your ticket.

You can avoid all this by adding the priority boarding (around 20€) to your ticket, which, allows you to carry one (small) personal item, like a purse, small backpack or laptop suitcase. Another advantage is a guarantee that you will keep your carry-on suitcase with you. I highly recommend this add-on.

AT THE AIRPORT

Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD) is small compared to other European capitals airports. You won’t need long to navigate it until you reach your gate but that gate within the main building is just a pre-gate. Passing that, you will follow a marked route onto the grounds until you reach a hangar.

In this hangar, Wizz Air staff will sort who has priority boarding. This is done by forming two separate queues and the priority one is completely boarded before they start boarding the rest of the passengers.

I must say it is difficult to not feel like cattle when you are being selected and grouped in a crowded hangar. Hopefully, the savings will take away some of the bitter taste.

IN-FLIGHT EXPERIENCE

Like with other low-cost carriers, you should not expect snacks, drinks, spacious seats – or anything, really – beyond taking you from point A to B. And that it does satisfactorily enough.

Obviously, you can purchase snacks and drinks from the onboard menu at average airport-prices. But for a short-haul flight, it won’t hurt you to skip it entirely.

All in all, nothing particularly good or bad, just a regular experience. And for the price (44€ one-way, including priority boarding) you cannot really ask for more.

Would I recommend Wizz Air?

Yes, it takes you where you need to go and super cheap. Spend those savings on something nice for yourself instead, like food 🙂 Cannot wait until I can fly with them to more destinations from Vienna.

Széchenyi Medicinal Bath, Budapest, Hungary

BONUS: Enjoying a lazy half-day in Budapest

There are buses that connect Vienna directly to Budapest airport. But having a day off, and the obligation to be in Milan only at night, it was the perfect excuse to enjoy a lazy afternoon before catching my flight.

Not wanting to wake super early, I planned to arrive in Budapest around lunchtime. Got whatever to eat around Keleti and set out to the historical Széchenyi Medicinal Bath to spend some hours relaxing.

This was not a random choice. The Bath (next to the Széchenyi fürdő station) and Deák Ferenc tér, the square from which the express airport bus departs, are both on the same line, M1. Additionally, by renting a cabin, you get a place to store your suitcase while you’re enjoying yourself in the pools 😉

When it’s time, shower, change and head to Deák Ferenc tér, just a 9-minute subway ride away, and catch your airport bus.

 

See also:

Budapest 101: Arriving & Getting Around

10 Simple Ways To Make Frequent-Flying Easier

 

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