Wizz Air is the only European low-cost carrier serving Dubai via the Maktoum International Airport at Dubai South where the Expo 2020 will be held. But its main focus is central and eastern Europe using a similar business model to the one pioneered by the likes of Ryanair and easyJet.
For the business executive these carriers often provide low-cost and convenient travel solutions to some of Europe’s smaller airports. I tried out Wizz Air from Budapest, its home base in Hungary, to Luton, London’s fifth airport.
Getting to the Hungarian capital’s Liszt Ferenc International Airport is easy from central Budapest. It took less than half an hour in a taxi costing Dh100. Unless you want to pay extra, you check-in online. But a disorganised baggage drop-off queue still took a rather annoying 20 minutes.
The airport is very modern. But Wizz Air’s passenger lounge before boarding the plane was a cowshed structure without toilets. But even that was better than the 10-minute wait in a queue on the tarmac in the blazing sun that followed.
On board, the two-month-old Airbus A321 had tightly-packed blue leather seating. I’d paid about an extra Dh100 each for the emergency exit seats with more legroom which was well worth it. Still the seat table was too small for my laptop and there was no charger.
However, there did not seem much point in paying the priority boarding fee whose holders got on the aircraft a couple of minutes before everybody else from a separate queue in the “cowshed”.
Landing in Luton was another matter. Yes, Luton is a very small airport so you don’t have far to walk and it’s quick to exit. However, it was not designed to handle the passenger numbers of today and it shows.
The tiny roads serving the airport are frequently blocked. To get to the hire car also required a bus trip to the pickup, and the firm Sixt sold to me by Wizz Air, was actually at another location, something I was not told in advance, causing further delay and irritation.
If you are not heading into the provinces then the train to London from Luton is your best option, although again you must get on a bus to the station.
Tell me more about Wizz Air.
Wizz Air started in 2003 as a private venture led by the American firm Indigo partners and was listed on the London Stock Exchange last year. It got a big boost when the Hungarian national carrier Malev collapsed in 2012.
Pluses and minuses?
Budapest is much more accessible from Europe, and from Dubai, thanks to Wizz Air. The new planes are squeaky clean and the flight crews young, friendly and professional. The negatives were the facilities both in Liszt Ferenc and Luton.
Any tips for a better trip?
Do book the extra legroom seat if you can get it. Buy your lunch in advance and take it with you.
How was the inflight service?
The in-flight service was attentive and efficient. There are no meals provided. But the Wizz Cafe from the trolley sells soup, coffee and sandwiches. The flight from Budapest to Luton was only two hours and 20 minutes, so the meal situation hardly mattered. I had the soup and sandwich deal for about Â£3.50 (Dh16).
How much did you pay?
The flight was not particularly low-cost at Dh985, but the summer is peak season.
You criticise Luton Airport. How does it compare to nearby Stansted?
At Stansted in Essex the car hire and train station are integrated into the airport. Luton is no match for Stansted.
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