We’ve heard of airlines charging some random fees to up the ticket price and increase their revenues (or offset their costs). However, charging an extra fee for using an ad-blocker takes things to a whole new level. That’s what one avid traveler is alleging in a Twitter post this week – demonstrating that Wizz Air charges a €10 “system surcharge” when AdBlock is turned on. So what’s going on here?
A system surcharge?
The allegation comes from popular YouTube flight reviewer Noel Phillips, who posted his findings via Twitter. Phillips posted screenshots on August 31st, stating that Wizz Air now charges a £10 ‘system surcharge’ if AdBlock is turned on. We should note that his screenshot shows €10 – however, this may simply vary depending on your country of registration or payment currency preference.
Heads up, @wizzair now charge a £10 'System Surcharge' if you have adblock turned on. Added right at the payment stage – right as click pay. Without an adblocker – no surcharge. pic.twitter.com/HIOCXSfUyF
— Noel Philips (@inflightvideo) August 30, 2020
Why would Wizz Air do this?
For many internet users, ads can be an extreme annoyance and add to the visual clutter of a webpage. They can sometimes slow down your internet speed or your computer itself. Additionally, some ads and ‘pop-ups’ can actually be malicious in nature.
However, for a good portion of websites, yours truly included, ads are a critical part of a revenue stream. Unless a site also has a paid, ad-free subscription service, or large sponsorship deals, ads are a ‘necessary evil.’ (On that note, we do genuinely appreciate our readership and their tolerance for ads – it keeps our website running and the new articles coming!)
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.
Therefore, in the case of Wizz Air, it makes sense that the budget carrier would also look for additional revenue streams in the form of ads. During our independent verification of this extra charge (more on this below), we went through the booking process and were reminded of just how desperate budget carriers can be to convince you to part with a little more of your money.
Sure, the airline will boldly advertise the lowest price on their front page, but go through the booking process, and you’ll be bombarded with ‘opportunities’ for extras and add-ons. Here are just a few:
- Unsure of booking? Secure your low fare for 48 hours for €6.00.
- Do you want more than just a carry-on bag? Checked-baggage allowance starts at €10.00 per flight.
- Protect yourself from last-minute changes by adding flexible booking for €11.00.
- Selecting a seat will cost another €10.00 per flight.
- Priority boarding will cost you another €17.00.
- Those who want to be checked-in automatically can do so for a €1.70 fee. Those reluctant or unable to check-in online can pay €10.00 per flight to do it at the airport.
- Fast track security and SMS flight updates are additional opportunities as well.
- And then there is the opportunity to pre-pay for car parking at the airport or car hire during your trip.
Therefore, the long point we are trying to make is that Wizz Air depends on various sources of revenue far beyond the basic cost of your airfare. It wouldn’t at all be a surprise if ad revenue were also a part of this business model.
Findings are up in the air
Simple Flying made attempts to verifying this surcharge through our own efforts. However, we were not able to reproduce the same findings. We even tried entering the same city pairs as Phillips, but we could not seem to generate the same €10 “system surcharge” that appears on his screenshots (although we had a smaller administration fee added on, but this seems to be quite routine for Wizz Air and all airlines.)
There are some possibilities to explain our inability to recreate the results:
- It could be browser- or location-dependent.
- Results may depend on the type of ad-block being used.
- Phillips could have stumbled upon a trial/experiment that has yet to be fully rolled out.
While we couldn’t seem to get the same charge, Phillips does add in a subsequent response tweet, “It seems to have been snuck in during the last few months of chaos, at least the only things I can find online about it start in April.”
We reached out to Wizz Air, looking for a comment regarding this practice. Unfortunately, the airline did not respond to our inquiry before the time of publication, but we are eager to report on their response, should we receive one.
If you have booked with Wizz Air recently, have you seen this system surcharge? We would be very keen to find out! Share your results by leaving a comment!