Yesterday I was due to fly from Warsaw Chopin to London Luton with Wizzair at 1230. The plane eventually took off just before 2330. The original plane had technical problems and could not fly. Almost 11 hours of delay. So now, the day after, and with a clearer head after some sleep, here are some thoughts about what has to happen…

As you can see from Wizzair’s map, the airline flies 20 routes from Chopin. But yet it has no spare aircraft there, and indeed – it seems – no system in place to get spare aircraft if it needs it. This meant that we eventually departed from Warsaw once another plane had completed its duties for the day. There is also no attempt to spread the burden between routes – it’s better for Wizz to delay one flight load of passengers for 11 hours than a few different flights a few hours each.

Second, the diffuse lines of responsibility mean it is almost impossible to find out what’s going on. The gate staff were from Chopin Airport, not from Wizzair, and they were just conveying the information Wizzair was giving them which – until 1700 at least – was ‘we do not have any information’. Yet a few hundred metres away on the tarmac was a Wizzair plane being repaired (ultimately unsuccessfully) by mechanics, but there was no way to get any information about what those mechanics were doing or had found. When I asked the airport staff whether they could ask someone from Wizzair to come to the gate I was told no, there is no-one in Warsaw who could come to the gate – they are all based in Budapest.

Third, the incentives in place in the EU’s airline delays and compensation rules can lead to perverse outcomes. Passengers are entitled to food from 2 hours delay (see here), and rebooking or refunds from 5 hours of delay, but the longer the delay escalates passengers get no new rights until ‘the next day’ – i.e. midnight – when accommodation will be provided. So Wizzair just needs to keep open the idea there will be a flight at some point on the same day and they are in the clear.

Fourth, keeping passengers in the same place might make the passengers grumpy, but makes life easy for the airline. Yesterday if we had known hours beforehand that the flight would have departed at 2330 we would all have left the airport and done something else and returned when the flight was due to leave. But to make that happen Wizzair would have had to send text messages and/or e-mails to all of us to tell us what was going on. To do so incurs a cost, so they do not do it.

Now the long, hard task begins to try to extract compensation from Wizzair…

[UPDATE – 13.5.2012]
After a few e-mails exchanged with Wizzair, and dozens of e-mails exchanged among the passengers, we were ultimately successful – all the passengers I am in touch with have been reimbursed €250!

22 Comments

  1. Peter Collett

    Having a wedding to go to in Prague, I booked a Wizzair flight, due to leave London Luton at 21.30 hrs. On arrival at the airport, at 18.00 hrs, we saw that the flight was delayed until 22.45 hrs. .So we went for a meal in the airport. Once fed, we saw that the flight was further delayed until 23.59 hrs. Annoying. Then came a message over the airports tannoy system that all passengers on that flight should go to gate 16. We all trooped off there, only to be told that we would not be flying until 0700 hrs the following day.No reasons were given, as the airport staff did not know why the delay was caused. We were told that rooms were available at a hotel about .75 miles away. So, having retrieved our luggage, we walked through the rain to the hotel. Fair enough, the staff there were expecting us, and we were allocated a room. Though little sleep,as we had to be back at the airport by 0600 hrs to book in all over again. This we did, only to be told that our flight would not be leaving until 10.45 hrs.And still no explanations. We did eventually take off at 10.45 hrs, arriving in Prague at 12.40. Which meant that all the arrangements we had made for continuing our journey from the airport were useless. Consequently, we missed the wedding – the whole point of the journey! We complained to Wizzair, giving them chapter and verse about the flight details etc. , and after two weeks received a reply,saying that they would look into it, with a view to compensation. Now, another six weeks have passed, and we have heard no more. NOT a way to encourage us to fly Wizzair again.

  2. Guillermo

    Hi people,

    unfortunately I am another passenger flying with wizzair. Last week we had 3.5 hours delay. I couldn’t find any email address to send the pdf, and the web form does not allow to attach files. Did anybody manage to get an email address to send it?

  3. Hi Jon,

    its nice to read your blog. We have just had some nice 5.5 h delay with Wizz and are about to raise the complain. We can unfortunately not find the address for Wizz. The homepage includes only hotline and a complain fill in section, but that does not allow me to attach anything. Could you please share the Wizz address.

    Many thanks.

    Luke, the passanger:)

  4. @Chris M – have a look at this: https://jonworth.eu/how-to-complain-to-an-airline-do-it-en-masse/ – I managed to get €250 from Wizzair. This page explains your rights: http://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/travel/passenger-rights/air/index_en.htm I’d advise you complaint to Wizzair using the standard EU form (and NOT Wizzair’s own form) and be very clear what compensation you’re owed (it depends on the distance you will travel, and the total you are delayed). It’s even better if you get e-mail addresses from all passengers and you all complain en masse. Good luck! And yes, Wizzair is DIRE.

  5. Chris M

    I have flown a rotal of 3 times with Wizz in my life. This is my 4th. Each and every time the flight was late. I am now stuck in the Nuremberg airport with a delay of 5 hours abd its 23:00. What a joke of a company. I seriously believe the company is run by circus clowns. That would explain everything.

    I have not had 1 good flight with them. This is my last, next time I’d rather take a train or coach bus, or another airline company. Wizz is a joke!

    Is there some type of European regulations site where I can make a complaint? I couldn’t figure taht out 🙁

  6. Hey Jon,

    I know this is an old post. However I find myself claiming Wizzair for a 14 hours delay and they refuse to compensate, they have the same explanation of the pressurization system problem and I am not sure how to structure my claim. I don’t have any of the mails of the other passengers and I won’t get them. Do you have any advise? thanks!

  7. Almilla

    Hello Kornelia,
    I’m so sorry to hear that you were at that airplane!
    Could you send me an email to zekeszabi {at} yahoo.co(.)uk?
    I’ve just started the process (I was busy until today) and I think I need as many contact as possible. We collected passenger’s emails on that day, probably yours is on the list. We will request compensation, refund of expenses, and additional compensation for inappropriate handling and stress (my son almost fainted because he was so hungry and tired)
    Thanks
    Zeke

  8. Kornelia

    I was on a Wizzair flight from Luton to Budapest on July 2nd, 2013. Flight W6 2206

    We had a 12 hour delay. (Left at 3:30 am instead of 14:25pm the previous day)

    Wizzair after my complaint offered to refund only the food/drink purchases that I had the receipts for.

    If you have been successful in getting an actual compensation for Wizzair please post your process.

    Thank you,
    Kornelia

  9. Almilla

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. The same thing is just happening to us right now. Our flight was schedule 14.25 yesterday!!! We are still at the airport. It is 1am next day!!! We are waiting at the gate after they checked passport, so we are stuck in the empty airport, and no one from Wizzair told us how long we still have to wait! You bet we will complan to Wizzair! It’s the worst flight ever.

  10. M Laskowski

    So I also recived a good will letter with a offer of 30£ voucher! WizzAir no way!

  11. hi,
    wondering if that applies to a 2,5 hours delay on a route that takes ca 3 hours. our plane landed at 01:30 in the morning which complicated everything…

  12. Peter Reid

    WizzAir paid 200gbp to my account today (roughly eur250). Success ! Thanks again Jom, and hopefully everyone else has persued this and been compensated.

  13. Peter Reid

    Jon, got confirmation today of EUR250 compensation.
    Great result for the little guys!
    cheers. Peter

  14. Good luck with the efforts to get proper compensation. Thank you all for the effort, it’s important for all of us as passengers and consumers.

  15. Peter Reid

    Received a response from Wizzair today. Its exactly the same as your response Jon – word for word. Will let you know my reply in due course

  16. Wizzair have now replied to me, saying they will give me £30 in Wizzair vouchers. No bloody way… I think this complaint is going to take a while!

  17. Peter Reid

    Jon,
    Really appreciate your efforts here.
    I have submitted my compensations form today.
    Wiill keep you posted on any updates I get.

  18. Now im sitting in Belgrad, flight Belgrade to London Luton at 6.00. Now on time table writes that flight will be at 13:00. I hope so.

  19. It is not unusual for budget airlines to not have spare planes. Only full service airlines seem to keep spares, and only then at major hub airports. So BA might have spare planes at Heathrow, but not at Tampa, for example. A plane breakdown in Tampa could see a similar delay. That said, a technical fault is not an extraordinary circumstance.

  20. Alicja Tatarczuk-Nowik

    I’m sorry it happend in Warsaw :/. If your complaint will not be admitted by Wizzar European Consumer Centre in UK would assist you seeking compensation (http://www.ukecc.net/sub.asp?id=272). All the best!

  21. Thanks for the tip. I’ve already found references to this case, and I think Wizzair have no case they can make on that point. The circumstance was not extraordinary – it was a technical issue with the plane with the pressurisation system, and I will emphasise that in my claim.

  22. Ben Stanley

    Don’t let them try and fob you off with ‘extraordinary circumstances beyond our control’ unless they can prove it. They will usually try this the first time round, as happened to me when LOT cancelled a flight just as I was due to board. I then started a case against them with the Civil Aviation Authority in Poland (http://www.ulc.gov.pl/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=660&Itemid=504), citing the case of Wallentin-Hermann vs. Alitalia. At this point they caved in.

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