Monday, 14 January 2013

Low-Cost #Airlines in Europe: WIZZAIR VS. EASYJET

When I was a student in the UK, I mostly traveled with EasyJet.

For those of you who don't know it, EasyJet is a British Airline, quite the choice for the budget traveler in Europe. You can find tickets at great prices, even if it is last minute high season traveling you're doing. 

Well, mostly. 

For me, it was the cheapest and most convenient airline choice. But... it was a little strict for my taste. Granted, airlines are supposed to have set rules and enforce them, to avoid chaos and mayhem. But the one thing I could never accept was the 20 kg. limit for the check-in luggage. I mean, 20 kg. is nothing!

On top of it all, the hours of my flights were always in the middle of the night, which often meant trying to figure out a way to get to Gatwick Airport in London (from Canterbury) in the wee hours of the night. Now, buses and trains don't always operate around that time. And so I had to sleep in awkward places. 

BUT NO MORE! I have now chosen a different way to go. WIZZAIR is a Hungarian low-cost airline using various European airports. My first WIZZAIR flight was from the UK, in fact. I think Luton was the airport, a bit further away from the centre than Gatwick, but at least there were perks to make up for it. 

I've committed to WIZZAIR since, and sadly abandoned EasyJet. That was before I moved to Rome and realized I couldn't use EasyJet to fly back home, as there are no flights from Rome to Bulgaria. 

So let's see why I did that. Firstly, the limit for the check-in luggage is 32 kg., tons more than 20! 

Secondly, the hours are slightly more convenient, for me at least. Now, instead of traveling in the middle of the night, I can also choose afternoon flights. (Not that I couldn't do it with EasyJet but the differences in prices were big.) AND I no longer sleep with the bums at stations and airports. YAY!

Thirdly, here's for the big one: WIZZAIR have introduced a brand new hand luggage policy! I was introduced to it on my next to last flight (pre-Xmas) from Rome Ciampino to Bucharest Otopeni. And my last flight from Sofia to Rome Fiumicino (January) was especially enjoyable, as I was given xtralegroom access for free because I spoke english, and so I was assigned to one of the emergency exits. 

Now let's see how the NEW POLICY makes traveling with WIZZAIR a great choice.

Instead of the standard 10 kg. for hand luggage, it uses size as measure instead. So if you're traveling with a small piece of luggage (42x32x25cm), you don't pay any money for it. But if you travel with a "large cabin bag" (56x45x25cm), then you pay an extra 10 euro when you book the flight. Now, it says that if they catch you with a large cabin bag, and you haven't paid for it, you'll have to pay 20 euro at the check-in desk and 30 euro at the gate. (Yikes.

But you know what? They don't exactly get their measuring tapes out. (Unlike EasyJet.)

I know paying an extra 10 euro seems like yet another way to milk the cow, a.k.a. the eager traveler. But the smart traveler will notice the benefits. (Aren't I modest.) For example, the policy doesn't say anything about any weight limits. (Except if you're in Hungary.) All it says is: "you must be able to place your luggage in the overhead compartments UNASSISTED". So if you're a manly man, you can pack that baby for all you're worth and go way over 10 kg. If you're a woman, you can ask a manly man to help. 

In my case, I packed the baby pretty good and since I was weakened from illness, I did require assistance. I got it from the stewardess who was kind enough to just point out it was a little heavy. No big deal.

Finally, I haven't really considered all the perks yet, but I will soon. Happy travels!

What about you? Have you traveled with EasyJet and WizzAir? What are your impressions?

P.S. If you click on the source link for the image above this post, you'll read a review of the new policy by a Mr. Chris Leadbeater. While I agree that it's a pain to pay for hand luggage as well, I still think that it's preferable if you consider all the perks. And like I said, they don't really measure anything at the gate. ;)

(Which is maybe something that should concern the airline, but the budget traveler rejoices.)

P.S.2: RYANAIR seems to be the cheapest option. I'll fly with them soon and let you know what I think!