Airline: Wizz Air
Flight #: W6 4303
Date: Friday 17th June 2022
Having thoroughly enjoyed my 24 hours in the Bulgarian capital (read about that here) it was time to head back to the airport for my flight home with Wizz Air. With Wizz having sent out an email specifically advising arriving at the airport 3 hours before the flight, I left the city centre with about 4 hours until departure to allow time for the metro and shuttle bus.
My timings seemed to be spot on as I got off the bus outside Terminal 1 pretty much exactly 3 hours before departure, however the advice from Wizz Air seemed unnecessary as I was through security and passport control within about 5 minutes and therefore had lots of time to waste. To make things worse, as I entered the departure lounge, a 30-minute delay came up on the screens, giving me about 200 minutes until departure.
Terminal 1 is Sofia Airport’s original terminal and is now only used by a handful of low-cost airlines including Wizz Air and EasyJet. Unfortunately, this means the facilities are rather lacking and the two coffee shops, newsagents and duty free didn’t really provide anything to help pass the time until departure, not helped by the fact my phone battery was on its last legs.
Finally, after having made a few notes for the blog, a power nap and more counting ceiling tiles than I’d like to repeat, it was time for boarding to begin. Unfortunately, what should have been a straightforward process descended into chaos with the failure of the barcode reader at our gate, and the lack of any queue control when we were moved to the adjacent gate. With there also only being one bus available when realistically three were required, the entire process was a glorified rugby scrum that took over an hour from it starting to the final person boarding the aircraft.
Thankfully we were finally all onboard the aircraft and unlike my outbound flight (read about that here), we weren’t delayed further waiting to taxi or take-off. Having opted to make this trip true low-cost, I hadn’t paid to choose my seat and unfortunately the check-in lottery hadn’t fallen in my favour. My seat for the flight was 18D, possibly the first non-window seat I’ve had for a flight since I went to Australia in 2011, and it was weird not being able to see the ground get smaller out of the window as we took off.
We weren’t far into the flight before the onboard service started, and as with the flight out I decided to opt for the salami and cheese pretzel along with a bottle of water and a KitKat. Whilst airline food is rarely great, I do think Wizz’s options are reasonable, and the pretzel was tasty enough. Whilst it feels slightly wrong settling for ‘reasonable’, it is better than ‘not ok’ and so Wizz certainly does better than some of its competitors.
Given pretty much all the major legacy carriers have now stopped any inclusive food service onboard their European flights, the options available for buy on board are now the difference between Wizz and airlines such as Lufthansa and British Airways and I’ll be honest, there’s not much difference.
After a small S-turn after departure, our route back to Luton was pretty much straight north-west until we were over the North Sea. There was another small turn onto a different airway over Zagreb, but the only significant turns on the entire flight were as we zig-zagged over Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire to approach Luton Airport.
Landing 2 hours and 57 minutes after we took off, we were just under 45-minutes late arriving at Luton, having had a bit of padding in the schedule to help recover from the boarding debacle in Sofia. Arriving as part of the inbound evening peak, the queue for passport control took about 15-minutes to get through, but it did keep moving, which is better than the experience at some airports.
I’ll be honest, this experience of flying with Wizz wasn’t the greatest, however I would fly with them again. Why? Because I paid £15 for a three-hour flight across Europe that was safe, comfortable with a professional crew. The biggest issue was the boarding process which also caused most of the delay and whilst this could have been handled much better, equipment failure sometimes happens. £15 with a less than 45-minute delay is better than I’ve managed with some legacy carriers, so it certainly doesn’t blacklist Wizz in my book.
Overall Rating 10/25 (read about my rating system here!)