A very warm welcome to part 6 of 8 of my summer travels for Europe! For this sub-trip, I visited the Island of Malta, a place that I had heard about for a while but never had the opportunity to visit. I combined this with a short trip to Belgrade, hence the flight originating from Belgrade instead of Sofia.
The entire routing can be seen on the map below, courtesy of the Great Circle Mapper:
I booked this flight for a steep $130, though it was so expensive because I purchased a Wizz Plus ticket (which turned out to be a waste of money, but more on that in the conclusion). I arrived in Belgrade a day before travel after a 7-hour bus ride from Sofia, which was an adventure in-and-of itself. I explored the city, and I didn't have high expectations, but was very pleasantly surprised. Belgrade is actually a very nice city, and I hope to visit again and have more time!
The day of departure arrived, and I took a taxi from my hotel, the Metropol Palace, to Belgrade's Nikola Tesla Airport.
20 minutes later, I was curbside.
I was pleasantly surprised to find a relatively modern departure hall! I imagined it to look a lot more like Sofia's drab airport.
Aviolet 737-300 operating for Air Serbia to Antalya.
I checked-in online and therefore bypassed the queue, which looked pretty long. I made my way up to security, where this old-school departure board was displaying the departures.
Security and immigration was a breeze, and soon enough I found myself airside.
Lufthansa A321 ('Chemnitz') to Frankfurt
Air Serbia ATR 72 resting.
easyJet Europe A320 to Berlin-Tegel.
Aeroflot A320 ('L. Tolstoy') to Moscow-Sheremetyevo.
Air Serbia A320 ('Vlade Divac') to Tivat.
Air Serbia A319 ('Miki Manojlovic') to Thessaloniki.
Air Serbia A320 to Athens.
After that quick spotting session, I headed to the Business Club, which I accessed via Priority Pass.
The lounge itself is nice enough, but there is no natural light, which is kind of a bummer.
The food, however, was quite good. There were a few hot options and a great selection of local cold cuts, which I enjoyed.
While I was reading the news, I found out that one of my lifelong heroes, United Captain Al Haynes, had passed away. Captain Haynes was best known for being the Captain of Flight 232, which crashed in Sioux City, IA. You can read more about him here. While that put a significant damper on my mood, it was still time to head to the gate. Of course, Wizz Air uses the old, unrenovated part of the airport.
I got to the gate just in time to see my ride arrive from Memmingen. Flying me to Malta was HA-LWV, a 2013-built A320WL which was delivered to Wizz Air in June of that year. Apart from a 6-month stint at Wizz Air Ukraine, where it was registered as UR-WUD, it had flown for Wizz Air with its current registration for its entire life.
One of the many things I've come to expect when flying Wizz Air is that chaos at boarding is the norm!
The nose of our aircraft…
…and the rear.
Boarding but not.
I made my way to seat 7A, where the legroom was a tight 28'.
I was one of the last onboard (even though I had priority boarding included in my fare, but the gate agent seemed to not understand that such a concept could possibly exist!), and shortly after I boarded, Captain Mirko added his welcome onboard and announced a flight time of 1:35. As we pushed back, the safety briefing was performed by the flight attendants.
Beginning our taxi to Runway 12.
Climbing over the Serbian countryside.
Ostrvo Sprud, Serbia.
Climbing higher and higher.
Navigating around a storm.
Zaovine Lake, Serbia.
Dubrovnik Čilipi Airport (DBV/LDDU)
View of the very uncomfortable cabin.
Crossing the Adriatic Sea. Around this time, my seatmate started watching downloaded music videos on her laptop without headphones. Yeah, this definitely isn't Lufthansa.
While we cruised over southern Italy, the First Officer made an announcement saying that we were on schedule and it was a beautiful day in Malta.
I asked the Flight Attendant if water was free and he said no, but a few minutes later he came back and gave me a free cup of water, which was much appreciated.
Left turn over northeastern Sicily.
Catania-Fontanarossa Airport (CTA/LICC).
Descending towards Malta.
Configuring for landing.
First sight of Malta.
Flying past the Malta Freeport.
Over the runway.
Smooth landing on Runway 31, twelve minutes early, after a flight time of 1:34.
Taxiing off the runway.
Thomas Cook A321 to London-Gatwick.
And I thought America had a lot of flags!
One last look at my horrible seat of the past 2 hours… It's pathetic that Wizz charges extra for this regular seat, because it's closer the the front.
The forward fuselage.
Retro Air Malta A320 to London-Heathrow.
Air Malta A320 ('Bormla') from Tel Aviv.
One final look at HA-LWV.
Our routing was mostly direct and very scenic. We flew at 37,000 feet.
I took the bus to The Westin Dragonara… where I had the worst hotel stay of my life. Stay tuned. See you in the next installment!
A relatively uneventful flight, but I still regret buying Wizz Plus, because apart from Priority Security, it really isn't worth it.
+ Newish A320
+ Friendly crew
- Terribly uncomfortable cabin
- Bad seatmate
- No respect for priority boarding
- Charging for regular seats
I'd definitely avoid Wizz Air in the future. But can they redeem themselves on the flight back to Sofia? Find out in the next report...