Monday, 30 July 2012

Back home late

Our WizzAir flight [W6 1306 29 JUL 1245] from 'London' Luton to Monty Modlin International was delayed - not by 45 minutes, or some piffling short time like that - but by nine and half hours.

Having received an SMS from WizzAir saying that due to the Olympics we should turn up for our flight three hours early, we dutifully did, returned our car to EasyRent at 'Luton' Slip End (a good way from the airport) in time to get to check-in with the above-mentioned margin. Once again, I was taken in by Wizz - it was ludicrous scaremongering. Though there were crowds, check-in and security were Most efficient, so once again, we ended up airside with plenty of time to do nothing but wait.

It soon transpired that our flight (due to depart at 12:45) was late; departure time was given as 13:30. The gate was called, we boarded, just as the sky began to darken dramatically. Just as the plane nosed onto the runway, the heavens opened, accompanied by lightning. The take-off was aborted. As second attempt was also aborted. The captain told us we'd have to refuel before we could try to take off again. We waited on the apron amid a biblical downpour. It would be too risky to refuel with all this lightning about. The storm passed - but the crew could now no longer fly as they'd exceed their maximum hours of work. A new crew needed to be flown in. A bus came and took us back to the terminal building three hours after we'd left it.

I have no gripes with safety in the air. Better that the captain had twice aborted take-off than we crash. Better than we have a fresh crew than have one trying to get us back to Modlin that has been working continuously for the past 14 hours. And there was no lack of information; we were kept up to date pretty well in the circumstances (nine flights affected out of Luton by the storm).

Right: our plane parked up on the apron under angry skies - it would remain here for several hungry hours. We received but £5 in vouchers to sustain us - and here's my gripe. This was enough to buy Eddie and me two sandwiches, one fruit salad and one fruit juice. Not enough to sustain body and soul for the extra seven hours by which we were delayed. And once we'd boarded the plane that would finally fly us to Poland - over twelve hours after we'd arrived at Luton - the food was full price. This is extremely poor customer service. No nod towards the tired and hungry passengers who would fly into Modlin not at 16:10 as per timetable (in effect the contract we had with WizzAir) but at 01:40. By the time we'd got our bags off the carousel and gone through customs, it was 02:00. Meteorological acts of God one can accept as things that airlines have to bear in mind when it comes to operational issues - but please - don't let your passengers go hungry!

Above: revolt of the Polish mums and grans at Luton. Despite the rain, the aircrew kept us waiting on the stairs for a good 20 minutes. It was chilly for those in T-shirts; small children, extremely tired, extremely hungry and getting colder by the minute. The mums marched up the stairs, entered the plane and stood their ground. Extra customer training needed for WizzAir staff is a must. Below: also tired and hungry and lugging a trendy 'retro' suitcase rather than a more practical one with wheels, Eddie makes his way to the terminal building at Monty Modlin International. We should have been here at 16:10 on Sunday; this is 01:40 on Monday.

The rest of the journey home went without a hitch. A bus took us to central Warsaw for 33zł each in a mere 40 minutes (the roads are pretty much empty at this time). The bus terminates at the Uniwersam car park on Al. Jerozolimskie, by W-wa Śródmieście WKD. A taxi (CitiTaxi corporation) was on hand to take us home at a 1.80zł/km fare, which came to 50zł. Rapid, efficient and cheap - from leaving the airport to getting back to Jeziorki took us a little over an hour and cost 116zł for the two of us. Modlin is not a such bad place to fly to.

WizzAir again? I don't like their 'cut every corner' approach to customer care. They could have given £10 vouchers and handed out free food on board. That would have made all the difference between being seen as a sympathetic carrier and one that tries to screw the customer at every turn.

WizzAir again? We'll be booking early for Christmas - with BA to London proper - London Heathrow. Eddie says 'Wizz never again'. I'm not so sure - one gets what one pays for, tak krawiec kraje, jak mu materii staje, as Monty Modlyn's old dad must have said.

Well, it's quarter to five - broad daylight outside, time to get some sleep. I have two TV and one radio appearance today...


AndrzejK said...

The real problem with the Micky Mouse airlines is that they do not have stand by air crews to take over. A bit worryning also that after two aborted take offs the fuel reserves had dropped to below what the pilot considered safe. Waht would have happened if there had been a storm over Warsaw and the filght had to divert to Gdansk or Katowice?

BA and LOT may have a strange attitude to customer care but at least in 95% of cases they get you to your destination with a no more than 2 hour delay.

Michael Dembinski said...

It was two aborted take-offs plus a lot of waiting with engines on, after which time a top-up was required.

And to be fair to WizzAir, I use this airline more than any other, and I've never had a delay of more than 90 mins before.

Eddie and I were on a CentralWings that packed up at Gatwick and a TravelService 737 had to fly in from Prague to take us back to Okęcie. That was 2006, he recalls.

Prior to that, a seven-hour wait at Etiuda was our worst example of airline hell (fogbound Heathrow, Christmas 2003). Now that was bad.

sportif said...

kiedyś Wizair latał z Luton do W-wy około 16. Wizair miał wtedy tylko 8 samolotów i jeden miał awarię. Zamiast o 16 wylecieliśmy o północy.

Innym razem przed Gwiazdką z Heathrow miałem lecieć BA, była ogromna mgła, wokół lotniska rozstawiono namioty, ja czekałem 3 dni - to był ostatni samolot do W-wy, który zdążył przed Gwiazdką a mój bagaż poleciał do Francji.