FIRST IMPRESSIONS I arrived at 0250 for my 0440 flight to Luton from Bourgas, Bulgaria’s fourth-largest city. Wizz Air flies three times weekly from Bourgas to Luton on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The Luton to Bourgas flights depart on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, leaving Luton at 2225 and arriving in Bourgas at 0355.
Bourgas Airport, with its fluorescent strip lighting, is a dreary concrete throwback to communist days. It was a five-minute walk to the departures terminal from the hire-car drop-off, which included descending some steep steps and crossing a car park. There was no queue at check-in, and I was greeted by a gruff attendant and given a tiny boarding card, small enough to slot into my passport. When I arrived at immigration, the immigration guard rushed over to stamp my passport.Security staff asked to see my laptop.
The departure lounge is large with uncomfortable blue metal seats. Both the café and the duty-free shop were closed when I arrived, although staff opened both just after 3am and there was a rush for coffee among the early travellers, who were mainly British. There is no wifi. Bourgas is a smoking airport and the result is a pervasive smell of cigarette smoke.
BOARDING We were invited to pass through the boarding gate at 0420. There was confusion over which gate to use as the announcement initially gave the wrong number. There was then a scrum as people squeezed through one small exit. Seats are not allocated; however, there is a ticket number system that means people who check in early board first. There was a short bus ride to the plane. We were delayed in taking off until 0501,but were not given an explanation for the delay.
THE SEAT This Airbus 320 has a capacity of 180 (there were 115 people on this flight). The leather seats have a 74cm seat pitch and slight recline to five degrees. They are laid out in a 3-3 configuration. My seat felt a little cramped compared to usual budget airline seats, most of which have 76cm pitch. Despite this, most passengers seemed to get a couple of hours’ sleep.
THE FLIGHT I settled down and read the lively in-flight magazine, called Wizzit,which explained that the airline is licensed in Hungary, although Wizz Air Limited is the UK-registered holding company.
The cabin crew, who were mainly Hungarian, appeared tired and irritable. I bought a cup of tea and chocolate bar for £2; also available were sandwiches (£2.75) and a glass of wine (£2.40).
ARRIVAL We landed at 0606 – the flight lasting exactly three hours and five minutes. We were quickly through immigration to the baggage hall, where luggage was swiftly delivered.
VERDICT Apart from the delay at Bourgas Airport and the slightly grumpy cabin crew, this Wizz Air service ran efficiently. It should prove popular with British people, who previously had to use charter flights to visit the region.
PRICE Wizz Air (wizzair.com) offers return fares from £89.