Why does Wizz Air have the most stringent rules with regard to size of the carry-on?

I can’t claim any special ability to be a fly on their boardroom’s wall, but the most logical reasons probably would include one or more of the following:

  1. Desire to maximize checked baggage revenue. If it’s too big to carry on, it will have to be checked.
  2. Speed of security screening. In the U.S., it’s fashionable to blame TSA for slow lines. The airlines enthusiastically endorse this perspective and some even offer “solutions” of various types, even though the lines are slower because they’re charging an arm and a leg to carry in the cargo hold what used to be treated as part of a passenger’s ticket. In response, people try to carry as much into the cabin with them as possible, which means a lot more hand baggage to be screened before it ever reaches the departure gate. Small carry-on bag = less to examine and a quicker screening.
  3. On-board storage capacity. Airliners weren’t built to carry everything that used to be stowed in the belly of the aircraft. If everyone carries a bag big enough to squeeze into the overhead compartments (and which hardly every fit under seats any more), there simply won’t be enough space for everyone. Angry arguments with cabin crew, fistfights, etc. (Oh, you didn’t pay extra to get “pre-boarding” so you could shove all of your stuff into the limited common space ahead of others who come on behind you? That’s on you. Sorry.)
  4. Safety/liability. I cringe when I see the size of some things being placed right above peoples’ heads. In some extreme cases, it seems like we’re one heavy turbulence encounter or hard landing away from really hurting someone. If it’s me or a family member, I’ll sue everybody in sight.

I haven’t yet had occasion to fly on Wizz Air. Their on-line reviews seem to skew a bit negative (for example, see Wizz Air Customer Reviews | SKYTRAX), but a lot of the commenters seem to accept that a low-cost carrier (LCC) is a no-frills carrier.

From my narrow perspective as an aviation safety type, I’d point out that they’ve been operating modern, complex airliners for more than a dozen years with only a single accident (a non-fatal one at that).

So, it seems like if you stay within Wizz Air’s stated requirements for ticketing and baggage, bring your patience, and don’t try to bring more than they tell you to, you’ll probably get to your destination without incident at a pretty competitive price. I’d probably be okay with that, at least for flights of modest length within their network. Budapest is on my bucket list, so you never know…