Wizz Air. Of course it was a fucking disaster 😝🖕

How to end up in the wrong country on the wrong day and find yourself surrounded by white supremacists.

I had spent a good week in Kosovo and was trying to head north. The Serbs remain giant dicks to foreigners passing through Kosovo, so like avoiding Russian civilians with a complex surface-to-air missile systems, I decided it was best to fly around their entire country. There was little choice with so few flight choices from this part of the Balkans leaving me to first bus down to Macedonia before getting a flight.

Get to the airport challenge

I booked a flight to Bratislava before jumping on the bus in typically style, flaunting time and weaving through the remaining minutes with ease. But after spending the afternoon in Skopje, I had to get to its airport. There’s no public transport, no Uber just the taxi cartel with a ‘simplified’ pricing structure. Luckily since my last visit Vardar Ekspres operates a private bus service, costing an order of magnitude less.

TripAdviser’s ‘worst experience of my life’ reviewers positively described this bus service as “ridiculously late, foul smelling and not actually a bus”. I found the ticket office in the bus station adjacent to where I dropped my bag. The schedule online matched the print out taped to the window, at least on weekdays. A male worker trying to avoiding his work offered to show me the departure point.

At this moment a slightly exasperated Julia entered the ticket office of awkwardly decreasing personal space. Little did I know this woman would direct my fate towards white supremacists. I grabbed my stored luggage and we were both lead outside and directed down the road. We waited and waited. And some more. She had been to Ohrid, oh how I miss that lake, although not being covered in my own blood [I’m sorry, I’d love to link back to that story but it’s still to be recovered.] We were on the same flight, actually I think everyone was. So many buses past by it was noticed that some public buses were ex-Germans and still had Deutsche destinations.

Some 20-30 minutes late our bus arrives. Yes it is actually a bus. Onboard we meet an Iranian Californian, full of racial profiling stories. We arrived at the airport some thirty minutes late, but still plenty early for the flight. Friendships cease at this point, with airport queues claim real victims. I had to check my bag on (Wizz Air charge for that) but Julia just had the large backpack to take onboard (Wizz Air charge for that too). I said goodbye and proceeded into a newly opened lane that allowed me to avoid much waiting.

WizzAir Skopje Check in

Wizz Air charge for everything, including airport check-in. Their phone app was rubbish but I could check-in at least. But being ‘non-EU’ with an EU card I still had to ID check anyway (and check in my bag). I later found nobody could avoid the queue as all online check-ins had to get a sticker, similar to being well behaved at school. When I went up to security the queues had started to swell.

Skopje Airport Departure Hall

How fantastic was this? Cheap flight and everything going so smoothly. For a moment I was living the low-cost high life, then I remembered: low cost carrier + end of the day = schedules are like religions, they require faith (of some would argue it’s just all wishful thinking).

wizzair-skpbts-delayed

Every Wizz Air flight was delayed when I got to the airport, but their estimated times ended up super optimistic.

Fifty minutes wouldn’t be so bad if Skopje Airport had so little to offer. A couple gates on this side, a cafe and burger king. The T-mobile airport wifi was initially very patchy. But overtime it became completely unusable. Probably as everyone else tried desperately to use it. I was cut off half way through conversations and had no hotel booked for Bratislava, although I did have a plan. The football loving Iranian Cali guy had a very late overnight train to catch so he was fine, just no sleep for a couple days. The rest of us weren’t sure, Julia would already miss her bus connection to Vienna. Realising we were going nowhere soon, we settled in and took turns on scouting missions across the terminal, getting coffee, burgers, wifi, charging phones, calling international rescue etc. I considered using my DragonPass membership to enter the lounge but it looks rather soulless.

Boarding: don’t do it, it’s a trap

So let’s start a timeline 🕖 of what exactly happened.

19:10 The departure comes and goes rather quickly. The other Wizz Air flight to Barcelona departing before us has hit a snag. They’ve been holding passengers in the corridor after boarding them, but at least they have a plane.

19:30 Those people are still stuck in the corridor, they look like zoo animals. We are considering throwing them snacks.

wizzair-skpbts-zoo

20:00 True to their word we slowly start boarding, well people slowly start lining up for no reason – there isn’t even a plane out there *come on Unicode 9.0 face palm emoji, we need you*

20:10 We are looking and see a plane… and the weather
 đŸŒ©đŸ€”

20:15 Now we’re really boarding… but also being held in the corridor. Julia: it is a zoo
(wasn’t me this time, I was more thinking a herd of death đŸ”Ș🐐 )

wizzair-skpbts-boarding

20:20 The captain rushes past everyone on the aerobridge. A giant bag of burger king in one hand, a larger one of duty free in the other đŸ”đŸŸđŸ·âœŒ

Exit rows on Wizz

If there’s one positive for me, Wizz Air started allocated seating once they realised they could sell the ancillaries of seat choices. Windows and forward seats and extra legroom are more. Front row had a hefty surcharge but gets the bulkhead restricted legroom like most/all low-cost carriers operating the Airbus A320. To me it the regular exit rows were great value for around €5, not much more to any regular seat selection and a cheap compared to most similar airlines.

Exit row safety procedures: they only care that someone English or Hungarian fluent is in the exit row window seats. They moved the other rows toward the window. They ask if everyone is okay with this, the large guy at the window near me basically says no so they immediately move him… to the middle seat. I offered to switch but the flight attendant already found crazy french guy who is super worried about his backpack. But being an exit row he must have the bag stashed above him. For the next twenty minutes he’s physically uncomfortable with that fact and concerned that the bag must lay in a certain position !?! 🙄

wizzair-skpbts-aisle

20:30 Weather actually is going to be a problem I think, huge lightning is filling the sky
20:35 Announced departure delayed 25-30 mins 😔
for the remainder of the time we have a huge thunderstorm cell passing slowly over us

20:45 French guy gets up, checks his bag, shaking his head. it smells like alcohol. he storms off and asks to be moved to the back. the poor flight attendant looks at me and I happily switch to the window. the large guy who had that seat needs some convincing to move out of the middle seat to give us both some space. He seems like an anxious inexperienced flyer.

Not going anywhere

21:00 Admittedly I was one of the first to realise we’re not going so pulled all my belongings out and got comfortable. Now there about a dozen standing and talking to friends across the plane đŸ‘šâ€đŸ‘©â€đŸ‘§â€đŸ‘Š

21:05 At this stage half the lights in the terminal went out. Great.

wizzair-skpbts-terminal-lightsout

21:10 Further delay. Plane above waiting to land 🛬, another 15 minutes. The large guy in the aisle seat seems convinced if he does his seatbelt up tighter we will take off sooner 🗜

21:15 They started the ‘meal’ i.e. BOB service. Not as bad as expected. Croissant + water €4. I’ve got my laptop and tablets out in the exit row and jamming to Spotify with my noise cancelling headphones. The world’s alright by me.

21:30 Things are getting desperate by now.  There is a 40 year old Macedonian guy travelling with his elderly mother across the aisle. He’s on Grindr… hoping to find someone else on the plane or a way off of it!?

21:35 I walk down the cabin to find Julia’s face hidden in a book. There are two adorable children bored shitless in the next row just staring at us 😳  actually they just need some attention and happily tug on my hair. Julia has been avoiding the world or at least the children and the guy whose middle seat I was occupying who was a manspreading machine ↔ đŸ€–

21:45 The Turkish Airlines plane finally lands and they’re announcing we will depart too.

wizzair-skpbts-turkish

21:50 Half the plane goes back to their assigned seating position. The weather has cleared up a little 🌧

Musical chairs time!

Musical chairs time!

22:08 I believe we have rotation about 2hrs and 59 minutes from scheduled departure đŸ›«
I wonder if they would have been liable under EU regulations, not for weather but the initial delay.

Makes the flight rather boring, relatively

After waiting three hours on the ground, a 90 minute scheduled flight goes very quickly. The problem of course came with landing. By the time we arrived there was basically no transport services still running. Not a good result. I ran into another young Austrian lady and her boyfriend while waiting at immigration. He was also an Australian with a UK ancestry visa, but they were getting married so he’d switch to a EU residency permit. No luck getting into the EU passport lanes I told them. Although the EU really should be something, particularly automated gates if you have a biometric passport + biometric EU card. I got yelled at one more time for having zero space in my young passport. Really people, deal with it – besides you don’t actually have to stamp the thing.

So wait, you promised white supremacists?

Ja, it’s called clickbait đŸ€t

Well not entirely. The story doesn’t entirely end yet, as we all had to figure out what to do next. The Californian guy now had a comfortable time before his overnight train. Julia has slightly overly protective parents, bless them, so drove across the border to pick her up. While I considered what to organise so late. I had no idea so graciously accepted an offer across the border with them. Once we had Austrian mobile internet we looked for a hotel, but after midnight everywhere was booked out. Being incredibly kind (and possibly being made to feel guilty by leaving me on the street) they suggested I stay in their guest room for the night. So I had ended up in Austria the following day, thanks Wizz Air. Later that day I got lead to an Austrian rock festival surrounded by fascists and neo-nazis so yes, thanks you Wizz Air I ended up around, among others, white supremacists đŸ‘»

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