Transport : Airlines

Related: WOW air

In this trip report, I review WOW Air, an Icelandic airline with modern planes. It is probably the cheapest way to fly Economy Class from American to Europe. They headline with super-cheap $99 transatlantic economy tickets, although when I looked recently, the cheapest one-way ticket from Boston or Washington to Reykjavik was $109, and from New York to Reykjavik was coming in at $149.99

The advantage of flying WOW Air is that Wow Air’s fleet is much newer than many rival carriers. You may also catch a glimpse of the Northern lights. When flying to Iceland/Europe, sit on the left side of the plane. When leaving from Iceland to the US, pick a seat on the right side. There are, however, many more serious disadvantages of flying WOW Air on their cheapest tickets; they really don’t include anything, plus on most WOW air flights you are routed through Reykjavik which adds to your flight time.

What is included in your 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 drink.
You do not get seat selection.

You DO get one personal item that must fit under the seat in front of you with max­im­um di­mensi­ons of 17 x 13 x10 inches (tiny!). That’s it.
There is a device charger in the seat (one between two and very useful).
You also get 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.

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The WOW Air seats are not well padded. They are known to be hard and uncomfortable and get bad reviews. On airlinequality.com 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”.

What is included 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 ($3). A cup of coffee or tea sells for 350 ISK and mini bottle of a spirit sells at 900 ISK (around $9).

What is included in WOW Air Business Class or WOW Biz?

WOW Biz offers 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).

I have written in more detail about the WOW Air on A330 in Business Class, 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, 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 routing.

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.

WOW Air had a stringent luggage policy which forces you to pack ridiculously lightly and gives you the 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.

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?

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 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? 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 price up WOW as an alternative, although by choice, I would fly with Norwegian in Premium Economy.

For a comparison, you can read more WOW air flight reviews.

WOW Air