- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Airline Type:
- Low-Cost Carrier
- Dublin Airport, London Stansted Airport, Milan Bergamo Airport
- Year Founded:
- Airline Group:
- Ryanair Group
- Eddie Wilson
- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Airline Type:
- Ultra-Low-Cost Carrier
- Year Founded:
- József Váradi
Travelers in Europe are spoiled for choice when it comes to flying on a budget, with the airlines like Ryanair and Wizz Air offering incredibly low fares. In fact, one can fly across the European continent for under a hundred euros or jet off to a Mediterranian island for the change in their pocket at times. But of the two airlines, which is the better one to fly on? Let’s find out.
How will we compare the two airlines?
The best way to compare the two airlines actually won’t be on price. As the two airlines expand on the battlefield of Europe, they regularly undercut each other to popular destinations resulting in a shifting tide of fares. You can’t say one airline is cheaper than another when a month later, the dynamic may have flipped.
Thus we need to compare each aircraft, onboard products, and how much all those extras like baggage and food cost to find out which is best.
Ryanair currently houses 514 aircraft across Europe, with 409 737-800s, 75 737 MAX 8-200s, 29 A320-200s (all flying under Lauda Europe), and one 737-700. By comparison, Wizz Air operates 165 aircraft, divided into 65 A321neos, 53 A320-200s, 41 A321-200s, and six A320neos.
Ryanair is the bigger of the two airlines, by a sizeable distance. Photo: Ryanair
Let us talk about seat pitches, a key factor for passengers.
Ryanair offers two different seat types, a ‘premium’ section and a regular economy section on its 737-800. The former has 32-34 inches of legroom, while the latter only has 30 inches of legroom. The fact that you can pay to upgrade to more legroom is a plus. The newer 737 MAX 8-200 features only 28″ of pitch, matching other low-cost airlines globally.
Wizz Air offers only one seat type, economy, with 28-30 inches of legroom and no recline. You can pay to upgrade to an exit row seat, however. Wizz is in the process of redesigning its seats and the new version has less give and is much harder than the older model. You can tell if the aircraft has a newer model or older model by the color of the aircraft ‘nose’ (Purple is older, and white is newer).
Wizz Air’s cabin does not offer any premium seating with extra legroom. Photo: Wizz Air
Both Ryanair and Wizz Air allow you to take onboard a free cabin bag, although Wizz Air allows you a slightly bigger bag than their competitor for free. The first bag must be under 10kgs and fit below the seat ahead for both airlines.
From here, passengers must pay for any other amenities. Ryanair charges £/€12-25 for a 10kg checked bag at booking and raises this to £/€24-36 at the airport. A 20kg bag will run you £/€18-50 at booking and £/€40-60 at the airport, with each extra kg costing £/€9-11.
Ryanair also sells a ‘Priority and two cabin bags’ deal that costs travelers £/€8-30 and allows for early boarding as well as a 10kg carry-on.
Budget carriers make billions every year in ancillary revenue for services like bags and seats. Photo: Wizz Air
Wizz Air’s bag prices vary slightly depending on the low and high seasons to maximize revenue. Prices also vary significantly depending on the route, with Wizz flying as far as Abu Dhabi. A checked 10kg bag will cost €5-71, 20kgs will cost €8-95, and 32kgs will run you €14-120 if booked online or before the flight. The minimum you will pay at airports costs €60 for 20kgs and €120 for 32kgs in the peak season.
Overall, Ryanair seems to be cheaper, although if you have a lot of baggage, it might be cheaper to fly on Wizz Air with a single 32kg case.
So after looking at the seats, aircraft, food, baggage, and more, which airline is best?
- Aircraft – Tie – We can’t deny that the A320neos are a nicer plane to fly on and easily take on the older Boeing 737-800. However, with the 737 MAX now more prominent, both carriers now have newer, more efficient aircraft.
- Seats – Ryanair – Bigger legroom and more comfortable seats go a long way, especially if you are flying a long way too!
- Baggage – Depends on how much baggage you have and how far the route is. Wizz Air might be cheaper if you have a lot of baggage or a short flight, and Ryanair offers the most consistent prices.
What we didn’t touch on was the route network between the two carriers. Ryanair offers more flights with its much bigger fleet within Europe. However, Wizz has spent the pandemic growing beyond its traditional East-West market and expanded further into Western Europe and the Middle East with Wizz Air Abu Dhabi. If you are flying with the prevailing winds of the airline (pun intended), you might find a better deal with one or the other.
What do you think? Which airline is the best? Let us know in the comments.