I realise that is a loaded statement, but I only had a line! Not everything was bad on EasyJet (a tongue freezing experience you'll see), but Wizz Air wins by miles.
Having to get from my home in Oxford to Luton airport to take advantage of free seats on Wizzair to Budapest, I left at 10 am for a 2 O’clock flight. Plenty of time; or so I thought.
London to Oxford was fine on the comfortable, reliable, timely and frequent coaches, getting to Baker St at 11.15 to change for the more earthly ones that run the 757 Green line service to Luton. There was no 11.48 as scheduled, but one 20 minutes after that. It was an anxious time when 5 minutes before my last check in time (1.20 pm) I was still on the coach, just passing one side of the airport. But this bus would go to the town centre first: I would never make it in time. Bad luck. What next? Should I call the hotel to cancel and go back home for a quiet, boring weekend? –No, I thought- but would there be another flight?
I could not find the Wizz air check in counter. That is because there was not one anymore!
So I went directly to Easyjet to enquire about any later flights to BUD
. Indeed, there was one 3 hours later at 16.55. There were seats available and it would be £108 one way. Better than going back after the build up to the trip the previous days: a bit of reading, planning and buying some suitable comfy shoes for city walking and thermal garments. I’ll take it – I said to the rather stressed looking employee.
3 hours is rather a long time to wait at Luton, so I had ample time to get essential comfort food: A cappuccino and a Danish pastry. It took a chocolate croissant on top to start feeling some relief from the anxiety thus far accumulated.
For the first time I was asked some questions going airside. Where I was going, business or pleasure, and whether I had cash on me. I answered Budapest, pleasure and £20, respectively. I had a tour of the boarding area, after passing security.
I did see a Garuda 767 parked, and wondered what it was doing there. Does anybody know? Was it a charter?
I preferred EasyJet’s boarding system to that of Ryanair. Groups of 30 in separate lines, as opposed to just 2 groups in FR
There was some waiting before boarding. The inbound airplane was slightly delayed. Overall we were 30 minutes late departing.
I was in the first group to board. Whilst waiting at the top of the stairs to the plane, I could see that the senior captain –earlier he had done the visual inspection of the craft: 2 wings, 2 engines with no signs of birds, tyres seemed inflated, and no bodies in the undercarriage compartment-
I could have been forgiven for thinking that next to him was his 20 year old son, but no, it was a young, dishy first officer. His name is Andy Hobbs, and he would do the flying to BUD
. From my seat (2C), I could see him frantically looking in a big book whilst programming the flight management computer. I must admit that I did feel some slight unease, but counterbalanced that with the knowledge that –what must have been- a very experienced captain was next to him.
Sam was the name of the senior cabin crew. She was courteous but had a nonsense approach, and accurately relayed the number given to her by the refueller: 11850. Was that litres, kilos or pounds of fuel? Sam remained very serious until it came to the safety demonstration, where she was just about able to contain the giggling triggered by the FA
reading the speech, who had to stop for a moment, and restart.
The airplane was a 737-300, formerly operated by Go (If only they were still around with their proper coffee). It had been reupholstered with the grey with the orange pattern that easyJet uses.
The inflight magazine was distributed. I immediately looked for the menu as was feeling hungry. A BLT sandwich, oh yes please! Something I don’t often have in my organic and quasi vegetarian household.
What disappointment when I unwrap the £3 item and already feel that it’s colder and more solid than it ought to have been. It took some effort to pull apart the piece of bread on top, but it revealed a frozen centre. The solid tomato glimmering with icicles looked especially unedible, and the rigid piece of bacon very unappetising. The lettuce remained bonded to the bread.
I so wish I’d had a digital camera to capture such an appalling product. It would have made its way to EasyJet’s directives. I did look to see where Sam was, but she was busy and already looking very stressed. I decided to bite the bullet –well, the equally hard tomato-.
In this instance Ryanair’s food –though as expensive- wins hands down. It is a shame that the traditional British approach to food –where quality does not seem to matter very much continues alive and well at EasyJet.
The approach and landing into Budapest at the tender hands of Andy Hobbs was smooth, but the thought of the appalling piece of food I’d paid a small fortune for was still occupying my mind.
I did have very nice food and generally a very nice time in beautiful and charming Budapest. I just hope to fly Wizz air on both legs next time. The return flight on them was faultless. The immaculate looking 2 year old Airbus A320 HA
-LPE (formerly with Aces Colombia for which my cousin was an FA
) with stylish burgundy leather seats, separate cup holder and tray table on seat backs, a nice selection of food and drinks (I had a a huge chocolate croissant with fine coffee for the same prize as a tea on EasyJet). The FA
’s uniform was smart too, to match the Fuchsia and mauve Wizz colours. It concerns me that the flight was only 50% full, many of those were probably free seats as they keep doing promotions. I truly hope that Wizz prevails.
Arrival back at Luton was early. Time for a quick pee before catching the coach back to central London: The urinals were as blocked as they had been 3 days earlier. I went to wash my hands, and whilst there was soap there was no water to wash it off. Ah, will have to remove it with toilet tissue. A bad idea! The WCs were blocked too. I was able to get out very fast before allowing such pong to induce vomit. Thank goodness I did not have to do a number 2. What a contrast with the spotless facilities at Budapest. That is Budapest, Hungary, Eastern Europe. Who would have thought… One might think that Britain is going down the pan. Indeed, but the pan is probably blocked.