Wizz Air: pilots pressured, staff hiding from customers and no margin for problems

Wizz Air
Wizz Air

Low-cost carrier Wizz Air (including Wizz Air UK) recently hit the headlines after reporting losses of €285 million but for passengers and staff, the woes lie deeper within the airline, particularly when it comes to its responsibilities towards passengers when flights are cancelled or delayed.

One thing we can be sure of is airlines hate cancellations, it’s bad for business and costs money. There are obligations and compensation that are set out in law that all UK and European airlines must adhere to. Most airlines “suck it up” in their business model as these things are inevitable but increasingly, we get told of airlines misleading passengers and not fulfilling their obligations under those laws, particularly low-cost carriers and most recently, particularly Wizz Air.

Just last month we reported how we were contacted by several passengers who were literally left stranded in Rhodes and had to find their own flights home and accommodation until departure after their Wizz Air flight was cancelled.

What should have happened is Wizz Air should have provided alternative flights, even with another airline, at their expense and provided accommodation until departure for their passengers for whom they have a duty of care.

Another case we have been told about happened at Cardiff Airport where a flight was due to leave then went “tech” – had a technical issue – which saw passengers disembarked whilst the problem was rectified and the flight delayed for four hours. Once passengers boarded again, the flight was then cancelled and passengers were told to leave the airport, several passengers tried to find Wizz Air ground staff but they had all “disappeared”.

These are not isolated cases nor are they unique, we could probably have selected one of 50 examples told to us in the last few weeks alone and the problem all seems to stem from one thing. Wizz Air operates to such tight margins it has no capacity for problems with either crews or aircraft.

Go the extra mile

This then, is also perhaps why we repeatedly hear about flight crew being pressurised into working on rest days and feeling obliged to use the “captain’s discretion” to exceed daily flying hours.

The European Cockpit Association, which represents the majority of Wizz Air pilots recently slammed Wizz Air chief executive Jozsef Varadi after a video emerged of him telling pilots and crew “We are all fatigued, but sometimes it is required to take the extra mile.”

The ECA described asking pilots to fly tired as “like handing the car keys to a drunk driver,”

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) also announced it was looking into Wizz Air and whether it was pushing flight crew to ignore fatigue and in a statement said: “EASA recognises that fatigue can be a serious safety hazard and needs to be identified and properly mitigated. We are currently investigating the allegations to determine whether and what further ad-hoc oversight actions are necessary.” 

The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) also commented at the time with BALPA General Secretary Martin Chalk said:“We know that airlines have just had the worst two financial years on record, but safety must come first no matter what. An airline CEO’s priority is to safely operate flights that make the airline money. If you forget your safety obligations, you can forget the rest.

“No one wants fatigued pilots at the controls – the possible consequences are too devastating.

“That’s why BALPA is working with airlines to ensure the focus remains on safety and that the second to none safety culture that has been fostered over many years, is not eroded.

“I would urge Mr Váradi to swiftly clarify that Wizz Air would fully support any pilot who does the right thing by not flying if they feel fatigued, for the safety of their passengers, crew and aircraft.

“I urge him to be as professional as his pilots in seeking to eradicate fatigue from the flight deck.”

But still, we hear from Wizz Air flight crews and cabin crew that they feel pressurised in to work extra hours to “help out” the company.

Wizz Air has repeatedly declined to comment on or deny any of the issues raised by their crew or passengers but this is to be called out as found as the UK has an exemplary safety record with aviation and the self-inflicted tight margins of budget airlines must not be allowed to compromise that.

What is your experience with Wizz Air, tell us below!

About Nick Harding 1735 Articles
Nick is the senior reporter and editor at UK Aviation News as well as working freelance elsewhere. He has his finger firmly on the pulse on Aviation, not only in the UK but worldwide. Nick has been asked to speak in a professional capacity on LBC, Heart and other broadcast networks.

6 Comments

  1. I was supposed to be on that flight from Cardiff. They had us on and off the plane twice. We were given £4 “meal vouchers” which was just enough to buy a drink. Flight was eventually cancelled because the pilots “ran out of hours” and told us a standby crew would take us to Corfu but I guess that was to stop us getting irate while deboarding the plane a second time. 20 minutes later it was cancelled, no doubt on orders of head office as they were already going to have to pay everyone compensation. No Wizzair staff in sight, we had to book another flight out of our own pockets. This is the second time I’ve flown with Wizzair and the second time they’ve cancelled a flight for me.

    • Had flight cancelled around start of covid and opted for the credit instead. Was advised can get refund if change mind but then rebooked new flight using the credit voucher so my original contract is void and can only get credit back every time they cancel which is so often it’s beyond a joke. On about my 10th attempt to fly now from various uk airports to various holiday destination airports every single one cancelled the last option I have is Tenerife from luton but if this gets cancelled I’m going to lose over £1000 as the only places they now fly are destinations that are not suitable for a family holiday. I literally cannot believe they are even operating as a genuine business they are without any doubt the worst company I’ve ever dealt with and I don’t just mean airline I mean any actual company whatsoever. If your not too late please don’t do it pay a bit extra and use anyone else, I don’t know about everyone else out there but my husband and I work hard for our money and don’t have a huge amount to just throw away which we feel is exactly what has happened with this joke of an airline. Don’t do it!!

  2. Absolutely appalling company to deal with. Had a holiday booked to go to Crete at end of June and after a 4 hour delay at the airport was told (over a tannoy!) that the flight was cancelled and we had to sort out our own accommodation via booking.com. We’re now in November and still waiting for them to pay our compensation which should have been paid last week. Would never use them again. I suspect they won’t be in business for much longer due to the disgusting way they treat their customers.

  3. I am a Filipino , I got my Philippine passport since I am a Filipino and a Romanian visa since I’ll be visiting that country and obviously since it is the only requirement. I’ve booked my flight in wizzair and was refused boarding since according to the staff I dont have EU passport which is obvious since I am not an EU resident hence I had my visa. They say I am a Filipino and cannot board. The airline also refused my refund request and I am stucked in Dubai Airport where I cannot afford a ticket due to its high costs

  4. Still waiting for compensation 6 months after morning flight from Luton to Ohrid cancelled and flown to Skopje late at night instead where had to get an expensive taxi to Ohrid.
    Have been told we will get it in 14-20 days and saying it is resolved.The 20 days is up today and nothing yet.

  5. What a total mess of a company. My flight was cancelled after 2 hours delay back in September, i received email tham my compesation was getting proccesed on 28th of October, and now after Christmast my claim is closed and i haven’t received a penny. See you in court.

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