Tried & Tested

Wizzair, A320-200 economy class

25 Oct 2011 by BusinessTraveller

DESCRIPTION Warsaw Chopin Airport to London Luton. Wizzair flies the route direct three times a day, and other direct connections from Warsaw include Liverpool, Madrid and Cork.

CHECK-IN I arrived at Terminal A of Warsaw Chopin Airport at 1600 by taxi, 1.5 hours before take-off. I headed to check-in desks 119-121 in Zone A, a five-minute walk from the entrance. There was a short queue, which moved quickly, and I was served promptly, then directed to gate 11. Security before the gate was very close to the where I’d checked in, and the queue here was also moving along at a good pace, so I was through to departures by 1620 – just 20 minutes after arriving. I’d been advised not to arrive too early for the flight, and understood why – the airport was busy but not full at this time, and so service was speedy.

THE LOUNGE Once through security, I spent some time in the duty free shops before heading to the gate. There was ample opportunity to stock up on Polish vodka, and shops included a Sephora, an Esprit, a magazine and snack shop and a few cafes. Directions to the gate were clearly indicated, and after walking straight ahead for five minutes, I was at the gate by 1640. The seats at the gate were almost full – I managed to get one but several people were standing.

BOARDING At 1700, flight attendants arrived and everybody stood up, forming a sort-of queue. However, the boarding process didn’t actually begin until 15 minutes later. Our passes were checked and we were led downstairs to board a shuttle bus. On the bus, priority boarders were divided from other passengers by tape ­­– I felt this was a bit unnecessary as the rest of us passengers were extremely cramped and uncomfortable, while there were about two prams and a few couples on the other side with plenty of space. It was also a good five-minute drive, and in the heat, bearing hand luggage stuffed with duty-free gifts, this was not pleasant. Perhaps the division could have been more proportional. Priority boarders were let off the bus first when we reached the plane, followed by the rest of us, and we embarked the plane from both the front and the back.

THE SEAT Without thinking, I chose a seat and realised once I’d sat down that this was the same seat as my outbound journey – a window seat in row 7 of the A320-200, seat 7A (for a seatplan click here). Seats are configured 3-3 (ABC DEF) and this time, the middle seat of the row was free, which meant the armrest to the right was mine, and I had much more legroom to the side. The seat was upholstered in maroon leather and had a push button recline. A magazine rack was integrated into the seat in front, with enough space to store my book. The seat was comfortable enough for a short journey, although I struggled to get comfortable when I tried to have a power nap.

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE Rows 12 and 13 are reserved for passengers who’ve paid Wizzair’s XXLong extra leg room fee (£4 when booked in advance, £8 at the airport). These were all in use during the flight, so book in advance if this appeals to you – if you intend to get some sleep it’s definitely worth the charge. Failing that, my window seat near meant at least I could lean against the wall for some shuteye. Passengers at the front of the plane disembark first, so perhaps the front rows are the ones to go for, although the toilets are located at the very front of the plane, so maybe rows 5-7 are more ideal.

THE FLIGHT I was greeted as I boarded the plane and was in my seat by 1735. We took off at 1745, 15 minutes late. I managed to get some sleep, in the end, the best way was to fold my arms and lean on the fold-down table, which was of a decent size. It would be large enough to support a laptop, but there is no power source. About half an hour after take-off, the food trolley went by, offering the same selection as on my inbound flight – soft and hot drinks, chocolates, crisps and sandwiches.

ARRIVAL The flight sped by, and we landed at London Luton at 1900, ten minutes early – passengers applauded as we touched down. Passengers in the front rows were the first to leave the plane, and there was no need for a shuttle bus at this end. Passport check was no more than a couple of minutes’ walk away from the gate entrance. There was a long winding queue for at the desks, which was moving at a good pace, but virtually nobody was using electronic check-in, which was to the right of the desk. I opted for this, and was through in no more than five minutes.

Luton Airport’s small size can be very handy – baggage claim was no more than a minute away, and I waited just five minutes for my bag, meaning I was ready to leave at around 1915. I bought a couple of things from the Marks and Spencer Food store and made use of the seating at Arrivals  – there was an electronic board displaying the next departures from Luton Airport Parkway trains station for London St Pancras (departing every five minutes). When I was ready, I followed the signs to Bay 1, outside the arrivals entrance, where I boarded the shuttle bus to the train station, which took five minutes.

VERDICT An extremely efficient flight at both ends – I was pleased with the service I received. All-in-all, Wizzair provides a good no-frills product.

PRICEA mid-week return economy flight in mid-November costs from £65. Wizzair charges an additional £7 booking fee when paying by Visa or Mastercard, £5 with Maestro. 


Rose Dykins

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