I’m a sucker for cheap flights. Even though everyone I know hates one of the most well known budget airlines here in the states, Spirit Airlines, I’m actually OK with them – as long as I know what I am getting into. So you can imagine that I was quite intrigued by the constant advertisements of WOW Air’s super cheap flights to Europe. On our recent trip to Ireland we decided to forgo our normal direct flight into Dublin to give it a go and see if it’s worth the savings or not.
Haven’t heard of WOW Air? It is Iceland’s star budget airline providing low-fares for long-haul flights, all with a connection in Iceland’s capital Reykjavik. The airline was founded in November 2011 and currently serves 38 destinations across Europe, North America, and Asia. Their bright pink planes are cheerful on the inside and out with cute sayings throughout the cabin to keep you smiling. But the question is, are their low fares really worth the savings? Read on to find out about our recent experience.
Booking with WOW Air
Booking a flight with WOW Air is quite simple, but you need to know what you are doing in advance of booking to get the best out of your flight. This means you will need to have a decent idea of how many bags you will be taking, whether you want to pay for seat assignments (if you are traveling with kids, I suggest purchasing seats to avoid hassles), if you want to layover, etc.
WOW Air allows guests one small carry-on bag for free. Think a small backpack or a child’s size rolling bag (This SkipHop suitcase fits perfectly as a free carry-on.). Any other bags must be purchased. Keep in mind they also have weight restrictions for carry-on bags as well as checked luggage that is lower than most other airlines. Carry-on bags cannot weigh more than 10kg (26 lbs) and checked suitcases cannot weigh more than 20 kg (44 lbs).
I did not realize this in advance, so I assumed I could fit everything we needed in 1 checked suitcase of 50 lbs. You would be surprised what a difference those 6 lbs make!
[box]Included in the ticket price for children is either a stroller or a car seat. If you would like to bring both you will have to pay for the extra one according to their list of optional fees and charges.[/box]
Note, if you pay for a carry-on bag, you will be rewarded with early boarding which is a nice perk to consider when booking. We paid for one carry-on bag and all three of us were able to board early.
Why is WOW so cheap?
WOW Air is so cheap because they are a no frills airline. This means no entertainment, no free food or drinks and no extras. You must pay for everything from seat assignments, carry-on bags to food or water. That said, if you know what you are getting into it can make the difference between getting to go somewhere or not.
The planes are new and nicely laid out. The seats were also similar to the ones on Spirit- very thin with very little cushioning. Also there are no neck braces on the headrest for the long haul flights, so definitely need to bring your own.
The biggest positive was how much leg room there was between seats! This flight had more legroom than any flight I’ve taken in recent memory.
Contrary to what I thought for the first several hours, the seats do recline! The recline pull is located under the seat on the right hand side (or left if you are in a middle seat). It seemed that only those in the know were reclining and it took me a while to figure it out myself.
There are plugs under the seat, but no entertainment options at all, even through an app, so load your phones and iPad’s in advance.
Should You Stop Over in Iceland?
All WOW Air flights route through Iceland. One great perk of flying WOW is the “free” stopover. I say free in quotes, because nothing is quite free. You will have to pay a bit extra for your bags since your flight will no longer be considered straight through. Some flights have a horrible layover time anyway, meaning you can layover without having to pay extra, so check that our before booking.
Also recognize that any money you might have saved on your flight you will definitely spend during your stopover. Iceland is one of the most expensive countries in the world, but it is breathtaking and so worth a visit even if it’s quick.
For our flight, our bags were checked all the way through to Dublin, which we didn’t quite realize until we were at the airport. Luckily we had packed our swimsuits and winter gear in our carry-on, so make sure that if you don’t expressly book a layover that you carry everything you will need with you. And remember to make it small or else you will also have to pay for a full size carry-on bag.
The Final Breakdown
The money we saved by flying WOW Air was definitely spent in our 24 hours in Iceland, but we were OK with it because we got to have a quick peak into a country we have been dying to visit. Overall, our flight was comfortable enough even without the squishy seats, entertainment or free food options.
On the way home I will admit I missed having a direct flight since we didn’t have enough time to leave the airport and it was just “wasted” time. However, overall, I would say that the flights were fine given the price we paid.
Would I take WOW Air if the fares weren’t super cheap? Probably not. I have seen many complaints on Twitter about terrible customer service. This is the one risk you take with WOW Air…everything is fine as long as the flights go smoothly, but what happens when bags are lost or flights are cancelled? Something to keep in mind…
Things to Consider for Your Flight:
If you are taking WOW Air to Europe because the flight is so cheap, it might be best to NOT stop over in Iceland because any money you saved on airfare will easily be spent in one of the most expensive countries in the world.
Additionally, in-flight purchases and food at the airport in Reykjavik is quite expensive. For example, a packaged deal offered in flight with a ham baguette (with one slice of ham!), a drink and a candy bar was $15. At the airport, there were limited options for quick meals. We ended up with a personal size ready-made pepperoni pizza for $17. So my conclusion — bring plenty of snacks and food from your destinations as well as your refillable water bottles to fill up at the airport before your flight to save money.
Many of the flights in/out of Reykjavik require passengers to take a bus to the plane and walk up stairs. We are used to this as that is how it often is in Dublin, but many passengers seemed quite surprised never having done this before! Keep this in mind while packing – be sure you can easily carry your items up and down the stairs.
As always when you have connections, you have the possibility of delays. Our connection to Dublin was delayed by a few hours, but I had taken this into account when booking our day and wasn’t too stressed. Always create a bit of a buffer just in case! Our return flight had a big enough layover between flights that we had no issues, but keep an eye on this when booking close connections.
The Verdict: Would I Take WOW Air Again?
Yes! The flight from Los Angeles was super easy with a 9:50 pm departure. Given our flight time, we didn’t miss the lack of entertainment or food since we immediately fell asleep. The return flight was a bit longer as it was a day flight, but again we survived with entertainment options on our phones and by bringing our own food and water on board.
If the cost of the flight is what prevents you and your family from traveling to Europe, then utilizing WOW Air’s cheap fares is definitely something to consider. Just be prepared for all the extra add-on costs in advance and factor in how much you will spend at the airport or in-flight when budgeting for your trip.
What do you think? Would you give WOW Air a chance? What do you think about the proliferation of budget airlines?
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