Cheap early flights are not worth the money saved

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A terrible tragedy has befallen me. Despite going cold turkey on cheap early flights multiple years ago I relapsed a few months back, resulting in the terrible trip I endured today. Up front, no harm befalls the actual flight company, in this case Wizzair. They did exactly as promised: the flight left on time, the airport check-in made me feel like cattle on the way to the slaughterhouse, nothing was free on the plane, and babies screamed their way through the entire trip. So the essentials of any budget trip were in place. However, the early time knocked everything else out of whack.

Let’s backtrack. A friend of mine who doesn’t live in the same country as me had the idea of meeting up somewhere else. I checked the flights from Stockholm, he checked the ones from Brussels. After having enjoyed Eastern Europe in the past, we were left to decide between Poland and Romania. Due to the lower cost for both parties, we opted for Romania. That’s where things went wrong.

Although he was able to secure a flight that arrived at 8.30PM in Romania, I was not as lucky. My options were between arriving on Friday evening/Saturday morning at 2.55 AM, or noon time on Friday. Of course the latter – hooray for cheap early flights – was chosen.

I made a couple of mistakes choosing that. The biggest mistake: never assume your partner will drive you to the airport. Discount airline companies like Ryanair & Wizzair tend to fly from and to airports that are outside of the city they claim to land in. The one in Stockholm is actually Nykoping, and the one in Brussels is actually Charleroi. You land in the right country, just not in the right city.

A few weeks ago I found out the only way to make my flight at 8.50AM on time – with enough time as a buffer in case something goes wrong – was to leave my place at 5AM. Opting for cheap early flights was not a good idea.

I packed my bag yesterday, but got up at 4AM today to make sure I wasn’t forgetting anything. I had to add items I had used over the night. I slipped up by moving some of my stuff (phone charger, bag of liquids) out of my bag to put something else in there. Apparently I forgot to place these items back in there.

Carrying a bag I would soon find out was missing essential products, I rushed to a public bus to transfer to an airport bus. This part went fine. I stopped to get a coffee, and made it in time onto the airport bus. As the bus took off I had a look at the time schedule that was displayed. Things didn’t add up.

To go from Stockholm center to Skavsta airport should take me an hour and 20 minutes, yet this planning was telling me it would take 50 minutes. I initially thought this was due to the lack of traffic at this early time, until it hit me: I was on a bus to the wrong airport. See, Stockholm has three airports (Bromma, Skavsta & Arlanda), and I was on the bus to Arlanda, not Skavsta. (FYI, Skavsta specializes in cheap early flights).

I asked the Swedish driver to let me off. He passively aggressively told me (Swedes are great at this) to be more careful with checking this stuff next time. I rushed back inside the bus transfer hall, and asked the employee if I could cancel this ticket and jump on the bus to Skavsta instead. Long story short: no, I would still need to buy a new ticket, as I hadn’t even bought the correct one in the first place. Because this is what happens when you rush everything in life. I offered to buy a new ticket instead, only to find out the next bus to Skavsta wasn’t arriving till 7.40. I’m sure you can do the math, but if not: I would arrive at the airport after my flight had departed.

I looked into public transport, but no luck: no trains were running at the time, and I would only arrive at the airport at 8.23 AM. Which is three minutes after check-in closed.

I grabbed a random woman who was also waiting for the bus to Skavsta and tried to get her to share a cab with me. Unfortunately the woman’s flight was at 10 AM, so with the next bus she would still make it on time. She also barely spoke English, so I couldn’t ask her why the fucking fuck she was at a bus stop at 5.50AM for a flight that leaves at 10AM.

I took an Uber on my own. No complaints there, although it is painful to realize you’re spending 13 times more what you would’ve spent had you booked the right bus.

Upon arriving at the security check, I realized I was missing liquids. I had a bit of a chuckle about this with the people from security, which I assume did not go well with the 100 people waiting behind me. Still: we all need a laugh at 7.30AM.

I also realized I was missing my phone charger cable, which was a problem as I needed my phone fully charged to keep my friend in the loop of whether or not I was meeting him in the airport. I tried to buy one in the airport, but they told me they didn’t have this. Which is legit really stupid. Like in what world are M&M’s more essential to sell in an airport shop than a phone charger.

Since landing I have spent hours trying to recreate what was in my bag of liquids. Apparently contact lenses solution is very difficult to find in Bucharest, so don’t forget that one. A new charger has been bought.

So in conclusion, no more early flights for me. For real this time.

Overall damage: An extra 145 EUR spent on transport, around 15 EUR to replace goods in bag of liquid, and a first day in Bucharest that mostly consisted of me grumpily asking pharmacists if they had contact lenses solution.

Are cheap early flights worth it: NO.

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