Flying within Europe? You’ll likely come across some incredibly cheap flights on Wizz Air—especially if you’re flying to/from Eastern Europe. Based in Budapest, the airline, along with its subsidiaries Wizz Air UK and Wizz Air Abu Dhabi, flies to over 160 airports around Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.
While the airfares on Wizz Air are often shockingly low, you’ll want to know what you’re getting into before you get too excited about that €10 ticket. Much like Spirit and Frontier in the U.S. and Ryanair in Europe, Wizz Air is an ultra-low-cost carrier that adds fees for just about everything. Follow these tips to have the best experience and learn how to take advantage of its cheap flights without paying exorbitant fees.
Pay for Bags in Advance
Don’t be tricked by the terminology used by Wizz Air for what baggage is included in your ticket. Wizz Air only includes one small “carry-on” bag that does not exceed 40 x 30 x 20 cm and 10kg in the initial ticket price. This is similar in size to what U.S. airlines consider a “personal item” that fits under the seat. If you have a larger carry-on bag or checked luggage, you’ll want to pay for it during booking for the best prices.
Baggage fees vary depending on weight, season, and where you purchase. Any excess weight or baggage fees paid at the airport are considerably higher than if you were to book in advance. The fees are actually somewhat reasonable if you pay for your bags during booking. Sure, it may be double the airfare but your total cost could still be much cheaper than flying other airlines.
Purchase Wizz Priority
If you want to bring a larger bag onboard the aircraft and avoid checking luggage, you’ll need to purchase Wizz Priority. This allows you to bring a “trolley bag” onboard, which is similar to a normal sized carry-on bag allowed by U.S. airlines. The trolley bag is in addition to the smaller carry-on bag included in your ticket and can be up to 55 x 40 x 23 cm and 10kg.
Wizz Priority also includes priority check-in and priority boarding. The fee varies between €5-40 according to the website. For the flights I recently purchased, it was around €15 per flight which was cheaper than any checked bag fees and well worth it. I got the feeling that Wizz Priority passengers were less scrutinized on the size/weight of their luggage. Technically, my bags may have been too large or too heavy but I was never asked to weigh or size my bags.
Of course, there is no guarantee that you won’t have your bags weighed or sized but there’s much less of a chance if you avoid the check-in counter all together. During boarding, agents are more interested in getting the flight off on time than checking the size of your bag—especially for priority passengers boarding first.
If you do have checked luggage, you’ll want to compare the bundles offered to simply purchasing all of the extras you need a la carte. Wizz Go includes a trolley bag, 20kg of checked luggage, seat selection, free airport check-in, priority boarding, and priority check-in. This can be a good choice for flyers who travel with multiple bags and wish to choose seats. Otherwise, you may be able to pay less by paying for just a checked bag or seat selection separately.
Wizz Plus includes premium seat selection, Wizz Flex, and 32kg of checked luggage in addition to all of the extras included with Wizz Go. This is the best option if you want an all-inclusive experience without worrying about extra fees to change your flight or receive a travel credit if plans change and you can’t fly. Still, if you don’t think you’ll use all of the extras included, it may be cheaper to just purchase what you need a la carte. Since prices vary, you’ll need to compare for each booking.
Related: 9 Tips for Flying Frontier Airlines
Plan to Sit Apart or Pay Extra (Unless Traveling with Children)
One of the most annoying fees that has become commonplace in the airline industry is the fee to choose a seat assignment. If you’re traveling with a companion, you won’t be guaranteed seats next to each other when flying Wizz Air unless you pay extra. The seat selection page makes it seem like you have no choice but to pay extra for seat assignments by auto-selecting recommended seats.
If you want to take your chances and have seats auto-assigned at check-in for free, you’ll need to select the “choose seats later” option. If you’re traveling with two adults, you’ll be given a pop-up with an option to pay €12 for a “sitting together” add-on. This doesn’t allow you to choose specific seats but guarantees you’ll at least get seats together. If you don’t want to pay, make sure to click “No, thanks”.
Children under 14 years of age will be auto-assigned a seat next to at least one accompanying adult so you don’t have to pay extra to guarantee a seat next to your child.
Download the App
One of the best tips I can give for flying Wizz Air is to download its mobile app. This will make the check-in process, boarding, and verifying documents much easier. You can easily take photos of your COVID-19 vaccine and testing documents and upload them to your reservation via the app, which is required for most flights these days. And with the app, you don’t need to worry about paying extra to check in at the airport since you can get a mobile boarding pass right on the app.
Related: 5 Apps You Need for COVID-19 Travel
If you don’t have the app, you’ll want to make sure that you check-in online at least 3 hours before scheduled departure time. After that cutoff, you may be forced to check-in at the airport and pay a fee to do so. If you didn’t purchase a seat assignment, you can check-in starting 48 hours before departure. If you paid extra for a seat, online check-in is available 30 days before departure.
For airports that don’t allow online or mobile check-in, you’ll be able to check-in at the airport free of charge. To be sure, it’s always a good idea to attempt online check-in first.
Be At the Gate on Time
Wizz Air’s business model is all about reducing the amount of time an airplane sits on the ground between flights. For this reason, it is imperative that you are at your departure gate no later than 30 minutes before the scheduled departure time as Wizz Air is very strict on this cut-off time.
You’ll often need to board a bus which brings you to the airplane. This means that boarding closes earlier than you may be used to when flying on other airlines that primarily have jet bridge gate access. Give yourself extra time to make it to your gate. There is no reason to add stress by running late.
Become a Member
Lastly, consider signing up for the Wizz Discount Club. Standard membership allows the member to receive benefits and is only €29.99/year. Group membership gives benefits to the member and up to five companions for €69.99/year. Benefits include €10 off all fares that are at least €19.99 and €5 off checked bag fees for 20kg or 32kg bags. Simple math will tell you that the membership can pay for itself after just three flights and even fewer if you have checked bags.
I decided to pay for the membership for two flights I recently purchased since it saved me €20 off the bat. Chances are that I’ll be flying within Europe again sometime in the next year and the membership will pay for itself. If you plan to take multiple flights in Europe, a membership may make sense— specially if you travel with heavier checked luggage.