Wow: European Airlines Are Selling 8 Hours Of Flying For £18

London Gatwick to Lanzarote can be had for just £17.98 return, with a total block time – there and back – of eight hours and 10 minutes. That is a price per minute of just 3.7p.

Wizz Air A321ceo
Such fares are designed to stand out and stimulate demand during off-peak periods and for a new route. Photo: Wizz Air.

£17.98 for eight+ hours

Gatwick to Lanzarote, in the Canary Islands, is a round-trip of 2,925 nautical miles. That distance is more than a one-way from Gatwick to Riyadh or Lagos and just 90nm shorter than a one-way to New York JFK, a route JetBlue began on September 30th.

This deal is with Wizz Air, and it’s in January, two months after the UK’s travel light system is effectively abolished, making trips for fully vaccinated travelers much simpler and cheaper. Various dates are available, including the randomly chosen Friday 14th to Friday 21st.

The timings aren’t necessarily great – leaving Gatwick at 16:40, arriving at 20:55, going at 21:35, and returning at 01:30 – but that’s the thing. You must usually compromise to get the lowest fares, including schedule, days of the week, and what’s included – or not included – in the price.

Wizz Air Gatwick to Lanzarote
A 230-seat A321ceo will operate the flight. Image: Wizz Air

What does this price include?

For this price, you’ll get three things: a seat, hand luggage to be placed under the seat in front (40 x 20 x 30 centimeters), and online check-in up to two days before departure. Wizz Air will pay the tax (£13 in Air Passenger Duty), with the £17.98 down as £2.98 for the airfare and £15.00 as an ‘administration fee’.

As a student, the author traveled across Europe for very little money, sometimes even paying just 1p with Ryanair without any taxes or fees. Trips to southern Spain were had for a token 1p.

No doubt most people considering this trip to the Canary Islands will, at the very least, pay for a bag in the overhead locker (£16 return) or seat selection (£12-£20 return). If a passenger chooses ‘Pack & Save’, including a checked bag, the price rises from £17.98 to £111.74 return.

Wizz Air Gatwick to Lanzarote what do I get
Compromise is needed when deciding whether to accept very low fares or not. Image: Wizz Air.

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Yield passive, load factor active

It must be clearly stated that very low fares, such as this, are very ‘inventory controlled’. This means that, as you’d expect, there will be very few seats available at the price. Such fares are designed to stand out and stimulate demand during an off-peak period and for a new route (it will begin on December 13th).

It’s one way of filling seats, with Wizz Air a so-called ‘yield passive, load factor active’ airline, like fellow ultra-low-cost carrier Ryanair. For them, it matters less about what they get per seat – within reason, of course – and more about filling the plane and how much revenue they generate per trip. Higher loads and more passengers also mean more ancillaries, with 41% of Wizz Air’s revenue from this source in its last ‘normal’ year.

Gatwick to Lanzarote
Gatwick to Lanzarote is one of seven Wizz Air routes from the London airport this January. Image: GCMap.

Of course, this is a simplification. As demand picks up, they’ll naturally hope and manage for significantly higher fares. Indeed, booking data shows that easyJet’s one-way average base fare from Gatwick to Lanzarote was approximately £111 in 2019, against British Airways’ £132.

What’s the best deal you’ve ever got for a flight, and where was it? Share your experiences in the comments.