Illustration by Naeema Mohammed Sageer

Wizz Air: My New Religion

My mother will be thrilled to know that I have finally found an altar to worship at. It’s probably not what she was hoping for though.

Feb 13, 2022

Flying is awesome. Not just flying though, but the whole experience. You walk through airports with their glossy glass walls and watch planes take-off for exotic locations. You stare at the posh things in duty-free and tell yourself one day you will win the lottery and this is where you’ll spend your earnings. If you’re South Asian, you rehearse your argument on how pickles are solids, so the three jars that you always travel with don’t violate the No Liquids rule. I love the promise of adventure the whole affair has, of a new place far away. If only it all didn’t cost so bloody much.
I complained about this to my mother once. She told me about Ryanair, an airline so cheap that your cab to the airport would probably cost more than the flight fare itself. I scoffed. To me, Ryanair sounded like a mythical creature too sensational to have ever been allowed to survive. Capitalism would have eaten it alive.
Then I went to college and Wizz Air happened. It was of the same species of “ultra-low cost carriers” as Ryanair. Wizz Air would take you from one continent to the other for the price of a subpar lunch. Wizz Air would make your adventuring dreams come true without forcing you to spend your holiday on a park bench. Wizz Air was cheap. And suddenly, I was a believer.
I am firmly of the opinion that the heavens gave us messiahs so they could tell us about the heavens, and then they gave us budget airlines so we could see it for ourselves. The founder of the first budget airline took one look at organized religion and concluded that living a sin-free life was too much work to get Up There, so they bought a plane and charged people the price of a cup of tea to ride it instead.
I won’t deny that budget airlines have their faults. Yes, they are on a constant quest to shake you down. “Your backpack is an inch larger than our maximum dimensions? That’ll be an additional hundred bucks.” “Oh, you’re too cheap for that? Here’s a blunt pair of garden shears, trim it down to shape and you’re good to go!” You pay the hundred bucks. But honestly, who can blame them? The free market is a cruel mistress, and something has got to incentivize the good people operating the airlines to keep the skies full (it certainly won’t be your symbolic ticket fee).
For all that though, it’s worth it. If anything, budget airlines have taught me to read the fine print, a skill I lost when confronted with Apple’s Terms & Conditions agreement. And even if I get lazy about it and miss a couple clauses of red tape and they want to fine me, it’s still a saving. The only thing more affordable would be renting a bucket and paddling across the sea, propelled by brisk winds and stinginess. So budget airlines can stop the flight mid-air and demand twenty bucks to land, if they’d like. That is one hostage situation I’ll always return to gladly.
Mahima Sankar is a Columnist. Email her at
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