Wizzaren’t

If you’re travelling alone, a delayed flight to Brussels can be a fun thing. Especially if you run into a few journo friends and it all turns into an impromptu Oktoberfest.

But the brew gets really stale really fast when you’ve been dumped in the north of France in the middle of the night. Which is exactly what happened to yours truly three weeks ago. I have thoughts.

Back then, pengovsky was on a flight that was supposed to land in Brussels South (Charleroi) around 2100 hrs. Instead, it ended up in Lille, two and a half hours later. On top of that, I had to dole out extra money to haul my ass to my final destination.

First of all, Wizzair, I get it. Really, I do. You’re a low-cost operator and nobody really expects a top-notch service. Adequate will do quite nicely. And usually, you do a decent job of it.

Also, I know that summer is the busy season. The jams grow even longer, chartered flights join the queues, weather can fuck you up, and once you miss your spot in the pattern, you get bumped down the ladder more than once. We all get that.

But do yourself a favour and when shit starts hitting the fan, at least play nice. I mean, postponing the flight more than once, sure. Yes. Queues, patterns and time-widows.

But postponing it for exactly one hour and fifty-five minutes, stopping just short of the two-hour mark where you are legally bound to start issuing assistance to your passengers? That’s just nasty. Especially if the flight then actually departs more than two-and-a-half hours later than originally planned.

Then there’s the landing in Lille. Surely you knew that Brussels South shuts down at 2300hrs? I’m no expert, but I assume your own “one hour fifty-five minutes” approach bit you in the ass here. Had the flight really taken off at 20:50, you’d have made the hop to Brussels with time to spare (the flight takes about an hour and 45 minutes). But since the actual departure was about half an hour later (around 21:20), Brussels South Airport shut down while our plane was still mid-flight.

You can see how this is getting from bad to worse, can’t you?

And yet, you’ve managed to make it even worser. Not only were we kept from disembarking for another hour and a half after landing in Lille (the French were apparently just as shocked as we were), your cabin crew specifically said there will be alternative transportation arranged to Charleroi after we disembark.

Imagine our surprise when the airport people told us there will be no transportation provided, that the plane itself is already being fueled up and on its way to Hungary (OK, they said Romania, but at half past midnight I wasn’t going to start a geography lesson) and that we were on our own.

Good thing I picked up some French over the years, because English was scant on the airport and French was negligible among the passengers, at least those whom I ended up with.

Still, I was at least aware of what was going on around me. It took a group of PSG fans from Muddy Hollows a while to realise in their drunken stupor that they were, in fact, not in Brussels. It sure was a fun flight.

Off topic: what exactly is your policy on serving alcohol to passengers that are clearly inebriated? I mean, the guy behind me was drunk as a fucking skunk on payday during happy-hour and yet your people kept feeding him beers. What, was he going to turn into a werewolf if he didn’t get his hops-infused beverage every fifteen minutes?

Anyway, there we were, left to our own devices, in motherfucking Lille. I’m sure it’s a nice town, but it’s kind of hard to see the sights in the middle of the night, from a taxi driving at mad speeds so you can catch a goddamn Flixbus to a train station in Brussels.

Because, yeah, fuck the destination airport, ain’t nobody got time for that, apparently. And fuck the transport arrangements I and half of the plane already had to our final destinations. Of course I will fork out additional euros to get where I needed to be, ten hours late.

The story, naturally, does not end there. In my naiveté I somehow assumed you will at least make a symbolic gesture, maybe apologise and offer a token of appreciation. After all, we spent much more time together that night than either of us planned.

But, nada. Niente. Pas de tout. Abso-fucking-lutely nothing. Except notifications for your promo deals on my phone.

So, I went about it myself.

I expected it to be difficult, Wizzair. But this?

Somehow, I found your compensations and refunds form. It’s not exactly in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying “Beware of the Leopard”, but it is not far off, either. Geez.

In the form, the first thing you ask is whether this is a complaint, a compliment or a suggestion.

Well, I clicked my way through here from the Claims and Compensations section, what do you think it is?

In the next drop down menu you wanted me to further specify the nature of the message. And even though I chose “complaint” in the menu above, you still offer “Compliments” in the this one.

You guys are nothing if not persistent.

But then comes the hard part. Writing the claim. Luckily, I enlisted help from people who do this on a regular basis, with big-boy airlines. They have my eternal thanks.

Still, was getting frustrated a whole lot when it started to seem that no out-of-the-box scenario you provided on your website even remotely covers my situation.

It looked a bit hopeless to be honest, but then I stumbled upon Section 3.2.4. of the European Commission Interpretative Guidelines on Air Passenger Rights which states that

a diverted flight by which a passenger finally arrives at an airport which does not correspond to the airport indicated as the final destination in accordance with the passenger’s original travel plan is to be treated in the same way as a cancellation.

https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:52016XC0615%2801%29

I proceeded to write my complaint.

Or, I would have, if your fucking claims form didn’t expire a session after a ridiculously short time, prompting me to start the whole ordeal from scratch at least four times. You really don’t want to give me my money back unless forced to, apparently.

So yeah, I expect to be reimbursed. For the ticket, for additional transport costs and for the fact that you skinted on passenger assistance. But I am also billing you EUR 50 for time spent researching my way out of the clusterfuck of your own design and making me jump through the hoops because of it. Because I really shouldn’t have to.

The only good thing that came out of this shambolic event was a extremely cool episode of Luxventures podcast with photographer Matic Zorman which we recorded in front of Brussels North train station at 3 AM.

You can now make it slightly better still, by hustling and getting me my money back.

And I’m keeping my expectations low-cost, so to speak.

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pengovsky

Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

One thought on “Wizzaren’t”

  1. Don’t expect anything to come of that complaint.

    My luggage was delayed on my way to Luxembourg last year – it was a minor inconvenience, but I still lodged a complaint with the airline. After a couple of months of automated “we will get back to you as soon as possible” emails, I decided to look into the law since there was no obvious reason why a routine matter like that would take four months to be processed. It turns out that unless the airline decided to process my complaint out of the goodness of their heart, my only recourse was to sue (or go through a claims agency that would sue on my behalf, but also collect a percentage).

    Regulation (EC) 261/2004 does grant passengers the right to compensation. However, the responsibility to enforce compliance with the regulation falls on national authorities, and they do not make decisions on individual complaints (see Court of Justice decision in C-145/15). In practice, this means that airlines are free to simply ignore you, and they generally do, because most people apparently decide it isn’t worth the bother. The good news is that if you sue, you will definitely win; the bad news is, you will most likely have to go through the courts.

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