Malev – The Hungarian Airline

Malev was the Hungarian national airline.  I say was because in early 2012 it stopped flying and disappeared.

I had the opportunity of flying on this airline once shortly before the end.  It was a completely normal experience.  No better and no worse than other national airlines.  The cabin and cockpit crew were good and the cabin comfortable.  A simple sandwich for my short flight was quite large and tasty.  Actually, I say the food was better than average.

I give my highest regards to the Hungarian government of 2012 for letting a loss making airline fail and not bailing it out.  It is the only airline I have heard of that was actually allowed to fail.  Unlike KLM, Air France, and especially all the American airlines that are allowed to declare bankruptcy every five years completely screwing their employees and the taxpayer.  So kudos for that.

I do wish the government would revive the airline now.  Budapest airport has recently been updated and is large and nice.  The country is advancing quickly, becoming a hot tourist destination and is positioned perfectly to become a hub for international travel.  Air China has recently started flights as well as Emirates, EgyptAir, Qatar, Airways,  and others.  It would be difficult to compete with WizzAir for short haul routes except to major airports, and I think long haul opportunities are there.

It is a shame that an airline with a rich history of starting with Russian equipment in 1946 and ending with a Western fleet in 2012 just disappeared with hardly a murmur.


WizzAir is my favorite low cost carrier in the world.  I fly out of Budapest, Hungary quite often and since the folding of Hungary’s state airline, Malev, many years ago WizzAir has taken over and made it one of its bases.

WizzAir, like all low cost carriers sticks with one type of aircraft to save on maintenance and training costs.  So you will be flying on an A320 or the newer and lengthened A321neo.  The planes are easy to spot as they are a colorful pink and purple.  They carry this theme inside as well and the crew are equally colorful.

Attention to detail begins while searching for your ticket on their website.  They have many levels of tickets and options.  There are two different clubs to join for discounts, Wizz Discount Club and Wizz Flex.  They offer different discounts so read about them to see if either helps you.  They are only worth it if you will fly on WizzAir more than a few times in the year.

Once you find your flight you must decide if you want the Basic, Wizz Go, or Wizz Plus ticket.  Again you must read the description to see what works best for you.  A free 23kg bag, larger size carry-on, seat selection and so on.  I cannot stress enough to do your research.  WizzAir has two sizes of cabin bags.  Bring one too big and they will charge you a fortune at the gate.  Make any mistakes and you will incur a big fee at the airport.  Plan your flight out correctly and it will be beautiful and low stress.

On your departure date be sure to print out your boarding pass before heading to the airport.  This is a requirement.  They do not look your ticket up by your identification like the major carriers do.  The line will probably be an unorganized mess or it might be orderly.  This depends more on the airport than on WizzAir.  Everything will go smoothly if you have everything in order.  Don’t blame the ticket agents for mistakes you made.  Everything you chose and paid for will be listed right on your boarding pass.

After checking in you will go the waiting area.  I don’t believe I have ever had a gate with WizzAir.  Expect a bus to your flight or as is the case in Budapest, a walk.  Boarding is a free for all affair unless you paid for an upgraded seat.  You still get an unassigned seat but you get to board first and pick from specially marked rows.

All the planes I have been on have been well kept and clean.  The crews are young, efficient, and friendly.  They even clean the toilets in-flight.  You do have to pay for food and drinks but the prices are fair.  One euro for a soda and four for a beer or wine.  Again they have discounts for buying certain combinations.  The pilots are also outstanding.  All my flights have been smooth and without incident.  WizzAir runs a tight ship as they refund the ticket price to Wizz Plus ticket holders if their flight is delayed too long.  I have always been on-time or just a few minutes late.

I cannot recommend WizzAir enough.  If they fly the route you are taking give them a look.  If you have had a bad experience with them, which I’m sure some have as nobody is perfect, please comment and let me know about it.  I enjoy all stories and want to know how my luck has been.