June 30

Getting there on Wizzair

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The trip on Wizzair was, dare I say it, a whiz. Wizzair, despite it’s bizarre name, is a wonderful airline if our experience is any guide. The planes were brand new and clean as a whistle; the flight attendants courteous and helpful, if a tad officious. If the plane hit a bump, they were all scurrying down the aisles checking that we were all seat belted properly—and one admonished me to put away my iPod a full 40 minutes before we landed. We hadn’t even started our descent, in fact. I asked why, and was told: “We are in process of landing.” And when they want you to put your stuff away, they want you to put it where it can’t be seen. I stuffed my iPod in the seatback pouch of the seat in front of me, then when the flight attendants were all strapped into their jump seats awaiting the landing that was almost an hour away, I snuck it out and earpieced up, only to put it away when we were actually landing. What a rebel!
The only glitch with Wizzair from my perspective (the mildly officious flight attendants aside, which they more than made up for with excellent and courteous service—and all spoke great English, to boot) is that their fleet is composed of Airbuses of various configurations. Airbuses, although spacious and efficient planes, are plagued by the slight problem of occasionally having their tails disintegrate and fall off in mid-flight. One of the reasons that Airbuses are so fuel efficient is that they are lighter than other comparable airplanes due to use of composite materials, i.e., plastic, instead of metal for part of their structures. But airplanes that are built of metal can be examined for signs of metal fatigue with the fatigued metal part being replaced before it becomes a menace. Not so with the composite parts. According to the Airbus manufacturer—a European consortium named, strangely enough, EADS—the pilots and mechanics can visibly (and reliably?) inspect the parts and notice any signs of incipient failure in plenty of time to make repairs. Tell that to the folks who went down on the Airbus in New York on American flight 587 shortly after 9/11. Tell that to the group of pilots who have experienced such failures in mid-air and lived to tell about it. And tell it to the group of airline pilots who refuse to fly (or let their families fly in) Airbuses. I consoled myself on this flight with the knowledge that the Wizzair Airbuses were new and unlikely to have enough time on them to be potentially dangerous


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