Hey guys! Welcome to the final flight report in this series.
This would be my first time flying Wizz Air. Wizz has always offered very attractive prices, sometimes beating Ryanair. However, I found their additional fees to be insane, like £20+ for seat selection, essentially doubling the fare so I've never been able to justify booking with them instead of with someone else. However, their prices was fairly reasonable for this trip (€39, including seat selection and a 10kg checked luggage.)
I flew in from Heraklion the day before and spent the night with a friend. A few days before the flight, Wizz sent me an email with details about a strike in Milan Malpensa that'll be happening today. This got me quite worried as I wasn't sure if my flight was going to be cancelled or not.
A Google search later, I learnt that the strikes today will be mainly affecting Ryanair and Vueling flights, although there'll be a lot of chaos as a lot of airport personnel will also be striking. With all that in mind, I decided to arrive at the airport with plenty of time in case anything happens.
This morning's departures, spread out across many monitors. As you can see, there was a fair few cancellations ('annullato').
The main check-in area.
Check-in and bag-drop opens around 3 hours before departure. The airport was still fairly quiet with it being so early so it took me under 20 minutes to get through check-in and security.
Right after security, flight are segregated between Schengen and non-Schengen destinations, with the former departing from the A gates and the latter from the B gates.
Malpensa doesn't have a duty free area like most European airports (where you're forced to walk through the shops) - at least not in the B gates. Instead you have a wide variety of shops and restaurants/cafés on the side - most of which are closed, as you can tell from the photos.
I'm not sure if the stores are closed because it's too early in the morning or if it's because of the strikes today, but I didn't encounter a single open duty-free shop. There were a few cafés open, but they're all fairly crowded with people.
Through border control and I'm greeted with more empty walkways and closed shops.
Since I'm early (as always), I decided to have a walk around the airport. This is the area where most of the long-haul flights depart from (gates B50-59). I sat here for a while and it was nice to have the entire area (almost) all to myself.
Our flight will be departing from a remote stand. With most of the non-Schengen flight departing from here combined with lengthy delays caused by strikes meant that this area is very crowded.
Our flight time will be around 1 hour 40 minutes and here's the route, according to FlightRadar24:
Because of the strikes, boarding started very late, around 20 minutes after our scheduled departure time.
Some quick info about our Airbus A321neo:
Age: ~3.5 Years
Equipped with the 'cabin flex' configuration, hence the double over-wing exits and the removal of the doors right in front of the wings, which allows the aircraft to carry more passengers.
Wizz Air's purple seats.
The legroom - not too bad actually, considering they're a LCC.
Tray table and seat-back pocket.
Contents of the seat-back pocket includes:
- A safety card
- A air sickness bag
- Wizz Air's inflight magazine and menu.
The arm rest, held together with tape.
First views out of the window as wait for boarding to finish. I reserved this seat with the intention of getting an engine view, but the aircraft type changed to an A321 last minute. But I'm not complaining since a window seat is a window seat.
Boarding took longer than usual (around an hour) due to the lack of buses. I was one of the first to board and actually fell asleep for a bit before we finally started moving, 1 hour and 20 minutes late.
Departure out of runway 35R, bye bye Italy!
Climbing through the clouds.
Views of the Alps in the distance.
Reaching our cruising altitude of 34,000ft (around 10,360m).
Above the skies of France.
I fell asleep for much of the flight after taking that photo and woke up right as we were entering the English Channel.
First views of the UK - lovely weather today.
We were in a holding pattern for around 10 minutes, quite a bit for Gatwick.
On final approach for runway 26L.
Welcome to London! We landed 1 hour and 20 minutes late.
A quick photo of our plane on our way out.
Heading to passport control. I was here just weeks ago on another flight, it was quite weird to walk the exact same route again - probably a sign that I'm flying a bit too much. ;)
Two portraits of the late Queen Elizabeth II - made from thousands of photos of her. It's quite an amazing display and I recommend stopping and having a look if you're ever passing by.
But anyway, passport control took around 10 minutes, slower compared to my last few times here, but still very fast nevertheless. Baggage reclaim took absolutely no time at all - I saw my bag on the carousel just as I arrived at the belt. In total, it took around 30 minutes for me to go from the gate to the train station.
And, as if the strikes in Milan wasn't enough, it turns out that train crews in the UK are striking as well.
Gatwick Airport is one of the very few stations actually receiving a (very reduced) service. There was 3 trains an hour heading to Central London. London Bridge station (a large Central-London terminus) was deserted with only 2-3 staff members helping all the confused travellers coming from the airport.
So, 4 hours and 2 (very crowded) buses later, I arrived back home at 1:00pm exhausted.
Thanks guys for joining me on this flight report, I hope to see you on another one soon. ;)
A strike affected trip from Milan to London. A wide variety of stores available airside in Milan - except they're all closed. I don't know if it was because of the strikes or if it was too early but there was no option of getting any duty free in the airport and the few cafés that was open, was fairly crowded.
The flight was fairly standard, I could tell that some of the crew members were fairly inexperienced, but they were all friendly and professional. Cabin was fine, exactly what you'd expect from a LCC. I'd recommend them, but only if the price is right.