A Hungarian couple was stranded abroad after their Wizz Air flight was cancelled. A reader of Index wrote to the editorial office with details of what happened.
On 17 December, a reader of Index travelled to Iceland for a four-day holiday with his partner. They left their two young children with their grandmother in Budapest. The reader started his letter to the news portal with this: “I have always read with great interest the articles about Wizz Air flight cancellations, delays, abandoned passengers. Until a few days ago, it seemed like something that could only happen to other people.”
They had about 200 people on board, many with young children. Immediately after landing, they had problems as the plane was stranded on the runway for about an hour because the aircraft’s gate had to be cleared after the snowfall. After landing, they had to wait for their luggage and were not given any information for 3 to 3.5 hours before they were finally told that they would not be able to collect their bags until the next day.
“After I asked for the umpteenth time what was going to happen, they told us to go ahead and leave because they would only be able to release the bags in the morning. We were forced to book accommodation in Reykjavík, as our accommodation was about a 2-hour drive from the airport,” he wrote. But the best was yet to come.
“At 9M the next day, we arrived at the airport, where we were told that the plane had flown back to Budapest with our luggage. We called Wizz Air’s virtually non-existent customer service, where we were told that they had no idea where our luggage was or when we would receive it.” The reader and his partner then went to Reykjavík to buy “some equipment” to “even exist in minus 10 degrees”, and then set off for their accommodation outside the city.
Two days later, on 20 December, they returned to Reykjavík airport, where they again encountered problems.
“When we left our accommodation to go to the airport, we received an e-mail that our flight had been cancelled, in fact the flight had not even taken off from Budapest. Wizz Air offered to rebook our flight on another flight for 24 December. We were in a panic, we had a 3 and 7- year-old child waiting for us at grandma’s house,” the reader wrote.
He then went on to say that they had tried in vain to find other flights, they could not find a ticket anywhere. They then called the local honorary Hungarian consul, who said that others had also asked him for help, but all he could tell them was that they could book a ticket to Vienna for 27 December to replace the cancelled flight.
“My wife burst into tears at this point. Then, after about 1.5 hours of trying and trying, we managed to book a ticket for 22 December to Copenhagen, from where we’re supposed to get to Vienna that day, and from there it’s just a hop and a skip to Budapest,” he wrote. He also said that during their whole ordeal, they had tried several times to contact Wizz Air, but they could not help them, apart from the rebooking offer on 24 December.
“They still don’t know where our luggage is. This morning [21 December – ed.], we received an email saying that they have investigated our complaint and cannot pay compensation because the flight was cancelled due to weather reasons. We contacted our travel insurance company, who said that the costs we have incurred so far, which amount to about a million forints (flight tickets HUF 440,000 [EUR 1094], accommodation, additional car rental, board, etc.) should be settled by Wizz Air,” the reader said. He concluded the letter by saying, “We want nothing more than to get home. But we have learned one thing: never again with Wizz Air.”
In response to questions from Index, Wizz Air wrote that the plane was greeted by adverse weather conditions when it landed in Reykjavík on 17 December. “Although the landing took place in safe conditions, the wind was too strong to open the doors of the baggage compartment without damaging the aircraft, according to the aircraft manufacturer’s instructions. This was of course not only a problem for the Wizz Air flight, the local ground handling staff were unable to serve flights of other airlines due to the strong winds.” They then went on to explain what happened to the passengers’ luggage.
“The flight crew waited for a while for the wind to subside, but when it did not do so within the legally permitted working hours for the crew, the captain had to make the difficult but safe decision to fly back to Budapest with the luggage stuck in the hold after careful assessment of the situation. In the event that the captain did not do so, the plane would have been stranded in Reykjavík, forcing the airline to cancel hundreds of flights on 18 December.”