Earlier this month, I decided to try out the new direct service between London and Belgrade from Wizz Air. I had previously used Wizz Air in 2009 on their service between Timisoara in Romania, and London and it was a relativly good experience, in fact, having researched the company alot prior to that flight and finding alot of negative feedback and reviews, I was pleasently suprised with the service I got back in 2009.
So I went into Nikola Tesla airport on August 4th with a sense of optimization, looking forward to another no frills, but puntual flight with Wizz Air………little did I realize what was about to occur.
On August 4th, I was due to be on the 21:55pm flight from Belgrade to London. Check-in went very smoothly and I arrived at my gate about 70 minutes before the flight was due to leave. There was a resturant just opposite the gate so I decided to head in there and have a late meal (A plate of Pasta with 4 different cheeses, very nice). I rushed to finish the meal as by this time, it was about 21:15pm so I knew the gate should be opening up soon. As i finished my meal, the screen above the gate updated saying the flight would be arriving early, at 21:35pm – which I was quite happy with, however a couple of moments later, it updated to say 23:55pm – a delay of 2 hours.
By this time, all the stores and almost all resturants in the airport were closed or closing, and NO representatives from Wizz Air were available to provide information or any kind of compensation in the way of food vouchers or otherwise. In fact, an extensive search of the airport and chat with a couple of airport staff revealed that all Wizz Air staff had gone home after check-in closed!
The plane arrived at about 23:15pm and we were allowed to board at 23:40pm – it was obvious that the plane would not leave at 23:55pm and I think we finally took off at around 00:30am. The boarding process went smoothly, but the staff were quite rude about the delay, especially when asked about the compensation that they state they provide on their website after a 2 hour delay.
Fast forward now to the return flight, from London Luton on 11th August, which was meant to take off at 5:35pm Local Time and actually did leave on time. I was quite happy with the return flight, that is, up until around 40 minutes before we should have arrived in Belgrade.
About 3/4 of the way through the flight, I noticed the plane making some odd turns, as if the course was being changed, and sure enough about 15 minutes later, the captain came on the intercom to say that there was a minor electrical issue and that we would be landing in Budapest to have it looked at.
We were on the ground for about 2.5 hours in Budapest, confined to our seats on the plane with no food or refreshments offered. We were only updated 2 times by the captain during the whole two hours, and the cabin crew were EXTREMELY rude. Several passengers went asking for information and the cabin crew were not very polite in their responses, at one point I think I heard one of them say “I understand your concerns, but this is budget airline so its your own fault for choosing to fly with us”.
2 – 2.5 hours later, we took off again and arrived in Belgrade about 3 hours later, we had to circle Nikola Tesla for a bit to wait for a landing slot.
All in all, I paid 200.98 euros for this flight, I paid an extra 8 euros for priority boarding, otherwise its manic and you don’t get a very good seat.
It is obvious that the cause of ongoing flight issues, is that being a budget airline, the planes are used many times during each day, sometimes making 6 or 8 flights with only 45 minutes – 60 minutes at the MOST on the ground. Maintenance is not carried out on the planes on a regular schedule, so electrical issues and other issues are dealt with “as and when they occur” – often forcing the plane to land in Budpest or wherever Wizz has a “base” and the proper technical support available.
It also obvious that this was the reason that the outbound flight to London on the 4th was delayed, there must have been an issue that caused them to land in Budapest, as the delay was about the same.
I will not be using Wizz Air again – the only good thing to come out of the whole Wizz Air venture in Belgrade, is that airlines such as British Airways are now lowering their prices to compete – a return flight to London with British Airways is now 224 euros, a mere 24 euros more than Wizz Air (or 32 euros when you do not have priority boarding). Considering that with BA, you get a complimentay meal and drink on the plane, more leg room, your choise of seating when booking, and very rarely any delays, I would be happy to pay the extra 20-30 euros. All in all, I experienced over 6 hours of frustration and delays during this flight.
Quality of Airplane: 4/5 – the planes looked fairly new and were fairly clean, barring any technical issues
On Time: 1/5 – the plane was basically late both times by 3 hours or more.
Cabin Crew: 1/5 when there is an issue, they appear to have almost no decent customer service training, and are very rude when there is any kind of situation. 3/5 when things are running smoothly. When things are running ok (such as when I used them from Timisoara) – the staff are polite to an extent.
Value for Money: 0/5 – I’m sorry, but I expect a budget airline to be at least 80-100 euros cheaper than a non budget airline. British Airways is only 20-30 euros more expensive.
Tomorrow, I will be posting a cross reference of ALL airlines that now offer flights from Belgrade to London, the costs, and my recommendations, however I do strongly recommend British Airways and not Wizz Air.