Transport : Airlines

Related: WOW air

WOW air is cheap. In fact, it is probably the cheapest way to fly to Europe from the US and to the US from Europe. When they launch new routes, the fares start at $99 one way including taxes although when I looked, the cheapest one-way ticket Boston or Washington to Reykjavik were $109, and New York to Reykjavik was coming in at $149.99

The question is, are these super cheap flights really as cheap as they seem and are they bearable for this length of flight?

There are a few advantages of flying WOW Air. One is that Wow Air’s fleet is much newer than many rival carriers. There are also some serious disadvantages of flying WOW Air on their cheapest tickets; they really don’t include anything, which enables them to achieve the headline low rates, plus on most wow air flights you are routed through Reykjavik which adds to your flight time.

So what is included in your cheap WOW Air basic economy ticket?

Well, it is probably more useful to write about what you don’t get:
You do not get free carry-on bags on their flights.
You do not get free hold baggage.
You do not get food or seat selection.

You do get:

To carry on a personal item that must fit under the seat in front of you (like a small backpack, pur­se or briefcase) with max­im­um di­mensi­ons of 17 x 13 x10 inches.
A device charger in the seat (one between two and very useful).
You also get an appalling 31 inches of legroom in economy. But to be fair, the seats are comparable to most other carriers. American Airlines Boeing 757 also offers 31 inches of pitch.

The cabin layout is 2 x 4 x 2 on the A330 in Economy.

The slimline seats are not very well padded. They are known to be hard and uncomfortable and get bad reviews. On they are described as “torture devices during long flights (8 hours)”. Another passenger describes “the seats are so hard and uncomfortable that I spent the full 8 hours in excruciating pain in my back and legs”. Travel Codex on has also reviewed the economy seats on WOWAir. He bought one of their famous $99 tickets and you can read his economy WOWAir review Los Angeles to Rekjavik. He then paid a similar amount for his baggage plus some food.

Travel Codex notes some useful tips for those travelling on WOW Air;
1. If you are flying to Iceland/Europe at night-time, pick a window seat on the left side of the plane to get a glimpse of the Northern lights. When leaving from Iceland to the US, pick a seat on the right side of the plane.
2. The recline of the WOW economy seats is decent at 5-6 inches but the lever to recline the seat is hidden underneath the seat on the left-hand side. It’s hard to find so you have a good chance of the person in front of you not reclining into your seat space.

What do you get in WOW Air Plus

You get everything in WOW basic including that same dreadful seat plus a carry-on no larger than 22 x 18 x 10 inches and weighing no more than 26 pounds. You can increase the weight limit to 26 pounds for an additional $38 (prepaid) or $48 at check-in. Also included are cancellation protection and one checked bag up to 44 pounds. Note that there is still no food included or drink. Not even water. You can buy a bottle of water at the cost of 300 ISK. A cup of coffee or tea sells for 350 ISK and mini bottle of a spirit sells at 900 ISK (around $9).

What do you get in WOW Air Business Class or WOW Biz?

In January 2017, WOW Air announced a new cabin with larger seats and improved legroom for its lengthiest routes, connecting San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Miami to Reykjavik, Iceland.

The larger chairs or “Big Seats,” are more premium economy than Business Class and offer a leg rest with 37 inches of guaranteed legroom (compared to the 31 inches in economy), and the seat price includes priority boarding, carry-on baggage, checked baggage, and in-flight food (a hot meal). These Big Seats have been in circulation since 1st June 2017.

I have written in more detail about the WOW Air Business or Biz class Big Seat, San Fransisco to Europe. There are also Biz options on their smaller, A321 and A320 aircraft with the “XXL” and “XL” seats with legroom from 32 to 35 inches.

Entertainment on WOW Air

There are no personal, in-flight entertainment screens, complimentary overhead movie screens or even WiFi. You can rent an iPad pre-loaded with movies and games for about $17 USD, or bring your own devices or a book.

Food On WOW Air

Food comes in at around $10-15 and you can currently order chicken risotto, a cheese tray, a ham and provolone sandwich, a turkey sandwich, a vegie sandwich, a chicken caesar salad, ham and cheese croissant and a garlic pesto pasta salad depending on your routeing.

Should you travel on WOW Air in Economy Class?

The chances are that you will want to take baggage, buy a drink, and choose a seat next to your loved one. This is likely to almost double the cost of your flight.

Even then, WOW Air had a stringent and restrictive luggage policy which forces you to pack ridiculously lightly and gives you the added stress and worry about whether your bag is the right weight and size. The economy seats are known to be particularly hard and uncomfortable, and if you want anything at all on board (food, water), you are charged high prices for what you are getting.

I would not choose to fly WOW Air in Economy unless I had no alternative affordable option or unless I really did not need to pay extra for my luggage. If you do choose to fly WOW Air, bring snacks and buy water at the airport. Be prepared to be bored and uncomfortable. On WOW Air you very much get what you pay for.

Should you travel on WOW Air in Business Class or Biz Class?

We do not yet know the width of the WOW Air seat. The low cost transatlantic (and Europe-wide) carrier, Norwegian Airlines, offers an excellent Premium Economy seat that is better than Premium Economy on British Airways but not as good as Business Class on British Airways.

The Norwegian Airlines Premium seats have an incredible 46 inches of pitch making it the best Premium Economy airline and seating in the world. WOW Air Biz Class will offer a much less generous 37″ of pitch in their Big Seat which is one inch less (although admittedly a whole lot cheaper), than British Airways Premium Economy (there is notably less space in the WOW XL seats).

Would I travel on WOW Air in their Biz Class which is really a very average Premium Economy product. Yes I would. WOW air has a modern fleet and once you remove the worry of having to pack crazily light, the Biz Class Big Seat is likely to come in at a comparable price to the traditional airlines in Economy Class. I would certainly price up WOW as an alternative, although by choice, I would fly with Norwegian in Premium Economy as the Norwegian Premium seats are much more spacious, and they offer many more direct transatlantic flights between America and the UK (where I live) than WOW air.