Wizz Air Baggage Check Scam

I’m a capitalist at heart, but when a company abuses the system and screws their customers, I become upset.

In the business of flying,  any airline is a perfect substitute for another. This results in most customers choosing the flight with the lowest price. There are several price aggregators (Kayak, Orbitz, Cheapoair, etc) that allow you to easily compare prices of the same flight by different airlines.

Airlines know that customers will only choose them based on price, so they compete to offer the lower prices than any other airline. This sort of competition is good for the consumer, as it forces airlines to streamline their processes, cut costs and run more efficiently. Unfortunately, some airlines decide to use this as a way to screw the customer.

How I was screwed by Wizz Air:

I’ve traveled on over 20 planes in 2011, through a dozen airports and through a dozen airlines, all with the exact same luggage set-up.  One small piece of hand luggage (carry on) and my small backpack (personal item).  I’ve often times saved money by buying a ticket that does not include checked baggage.  In this time I’ve never encountered a problem.  My hand luggage always fit in the over-head compartment, and nobody has ever questioned it being too big (its pretty small).

I purchased my Wizz Air ticket from Rome to Prague because it was the cheapest.  It did not include checked baggage, which was fine with me since I’ve never been required to check it.  I went ahead and booked the flight.

Next, I’m told that I must print out my boarding pass before entering the airport, or I’ll be charged 10 euro.  I don’t have a printer, but I can find one.  I print out the boarding pass, and then it tells me I still have to visit the check-in desk.  What is the point of doing the e-check-in then?

While I’m waiting in line for the check-in, I see people frustrated at the counter, and leaving/returning with little slips of paper.  I don’t understand what the confusion is.

I visit the check-in desk, and they ask which piece of luggage I’d like to check.  I explain that I have on piece of hand luggage and one personal item, and this has been just fine with every other airline I’ve ever traveled with.  The lady says that you can only have one item.  Realizing that I have no choice at this point, I’m check my piece of hand luggage.  That will be 40 euro, go pay at the ticket window.

I head to the ticket window with my slip of paper, realizing that everyone else in line has been screwed just like myself.

Why this is unethical:

One of the fundamentals of capitalism is consumer choice.  Consumers can chose between competing businesses based on the good/service and price.  However, when faced with the 40 euro baggage charge, I did not have a choice.

Furthermore, the 40 euro fee was not a fair price to check a bag.  I could have easily carried it on board, just like I have done dozens of times in the past, however Wizz Air came up with a policy that would generate extra profits from unsuspecting customers.

Wizz air was the cheapest price upfront, but ended up costing me more in the end.  Had they included their hidden fees in their initial price, they would not have been the cheapest price, and I would have made the choice to go with a different airline.  Wizz Air decided to spring the extra fees on me when I had no choice, thereby going against the very ideals of capitalism.

Why complain about it?

Hopefully a few people will stumble upon this blog post while searching for Wizz Air baggage, and decide to go with a different company.  Also, I’m sitting in the airport waiting for my Wizz Air flight, its fresh on my mind and I wanted to rant.