Why the $99 Airfare Sale to Europe by WOW Air is Not For Me

A  no-frills airline called WOW Air is offering what some people may consider unbelievable deals to London, Reykjavik and Copenhagen from the United States where you can travel for as low as $99.00 one way — including all taxes and fees.

While other weblogs are featuring what appears to be an amazing sale, I am not biting — and here are my reasons why:

  1. Although you can find some good to excellent airfares with this sale, you will most likely be out of luck finding the lowest advertised airfares. In the case of Baltimore to London, those $99.00 airfares were quite difficult for me to find. Consider if it is really worth your time to attempt to find those elusive lowest advertised airfares — and if you are successful, whether or not your schedule is flexible enough to take advantage of them.
  2. Because I am not based in either Boston or Baltimore — the only two cities in the United States from which WOW Air flies — I would need to procure positioning flights to those cities; and regardless of whether I spend money or use frequent flier loyalty program miles, that dilutes the savings of the airfare.
  3. WOW Air is a no-frills airline — which is not necessarily bad if you know how to bypass as many of the fees as possible in order to stay true to the good to excellent airfares which you might be successful at finding. As with the positioning flights, every fee you pay dilutes the savings of the airfare. For example, expect to pay as much as $24.00 per flight leg if you want to reserve a seat in advance; which would mean as much as $96.00 for a trip between Boston and London. Unless all you have is a small bag weighing 11 pounds or less, expect to pay a fee of at least $29.00 for luggage as well.
  4. Whether it is positioning flights or possibly connecting flights into other countries in Europe, realize that WOW Air has no partnerships with other airlines. This could potentially cause problems should the flight operated by WOW Air experience irregular operations.
  5. Not that it is a significant factor — or perhaps to you it is — but you do not earn any frequent flier loyalty program miles or points with WOW Air, which could help to partially or completely offset the cost of a future trip.
  6. Other unknown variables — to me, anyway — include how comfortable are the seats; as well as the flight schedule frequency and times of departures and landings.

 

I just completed an unintentional trip around the world on five different airlines — all of which I flew as a passenger seated in the economy class cabin. One of those airlines was a no-frills airline on which I did not mind being a passenger for a couple of hours; but I also did not exactly enjoy the experience either. I do not want to have to be concerned about paying fees and wondering what seat I will have when I arrive at the gate; and the thought of flying as a passenger on a no-frills airline for many hours while having my savings slowly erode away due to fees and positioning flights does not appeal to me in the least.

For the aforementioned listed reasons, I will pass on this sale; and unless you travel really light and live in either Boston or Baltimore, this sale may not be for you either….

8 thoughts on “Why the $99 Airfare Sale to Europe by WOW Air is Not For Me”

  1. D. Durham says:

    Shnibbiddy shnobbidditty we found the air snob.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      My, my, my — judgmental today, aren’t you, D. Durham?

      Assuming you actually read the article, I will make a deal with you: fund all of the expenses associated with positioning flights to get me to and from an airport which WOW Air serves; and I will be more than happy to write and post a trip report pertaining to my experience as a passenger on flights operated by WOW Air — just for you.

      What do you say? Do we have a deal?!?

  2. Corey says:

    I flew wow air and loved it, $349 round trip trans atlantic…cant beat that. Seats were as comfy as regular airline seats, the staff was much friendlier than any other airline ive flown and the planes were new and clean.

    1. Ingvar says:

      Of course you can beat that – with Norwegian. It would be much cheaper and they even provide free Wi-Fi on-board.

  3. IndyGal says:

    I just returned from a trip to Copenhagen and Iceland on WOW. The night before my first flight, I booked the trip as four one-way tickets, which were unbelievably cheap: I think the flight from BOS to KEF (Iceland) was only $80! The flight schedule was convenient: overnight to KEF, and the return flight to BOS was late afternoon. WOW is quite strict with cabin baggage, and I can see where baggage fees could add up quickly; fortunately, my only luggage is a little backpack that fits under my seat. As far as seating assignments go, I’m typically the last person to board, and plead a tight connection: the WOW attendants were always sympathetic and let me choose any open seat near the front of the cabin. The seats near the front of the cabin do seem to have more leg room than the seats at the rear. However, the padding on the seats was quite thin: every time the person behind me put something in the seat-back pocket, I could feel it. Do be aware that the planes don’t have wifi, and that WOW doesn’t provide any free food/beverages (including water!) so you’ll want to provision before you get on the plane, or pay in-flight food costs.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I would consider traveling on WOW Air as a passenger; but unfortunately they do not serve the airport which I use the most — and I am not sure “positioning” flights are worth the savings.

      I appreciate you posting that informative trip report of your experience with WOW Air, IndyGal. Thank you for taking the time to do so.

  4. Marissa says:

    Granted I’m located right in Boston, I’ve flown WOW Air 4 times, with my 5th coming up next week, in the past 18 months. Taking the time to search for a good deal is imperative for any savvy or frequent traveler, and it is indeed not time consuming or wasteful to do so with WOW solely as they will tell you their best upcoming fares right on their homepage. In general, flexibility is paramount to a good deal anyway. Using something like Kayak or Google Flights is much more of a pain but I can almost guarantee it’s a waste of time anyway if WOW is an option for you. They truly do have the lowest price. As goes with any cheap airfare, there are consequences, and fees are one of them. I will almost always fly with just a carry-on (large North Face backpack, roll your clothes, wear your bulkiest clothes and shoes) and avoid the luggage fee, but the one time I did check it was $100 round trip which is comparable to other baggage-charging airlines.

    The main things to consider when considering WOW is your priorities. What comes first? Price, itinerary quality or airline? If you picked price, you’re probably packing light and ready for a chance at that middle seat anyway. And if that’s the case, go WOW every time. The Icelandic people are amazing and they will be your cabin crew. Oftentimes their flights are not full and you wind up with seat selection on board or even 2-3 seats all to yourself. You’ll fly over Greenland where you can see the northern lights at eye level during winter months, and you get to fly into Iceland which is just stunning. On top of that they have delicious food and drink, as well as beautiful Icelandic products for purchase in the Keflavik airport and amazing Icelandic beer for purchase in duty free. If you have the time, you can do the stopover (highly recommended) and have your mind blown. WOW/Reykjavik Excursions will even help you do a quick visit to the Blue Lagoon on a longer layover if you don’t have time to stop for 1+ nights.

    In short, don’t knock it til you give it a shot. WOW has opened a literal world of opportunity for me and I’m able to look past its cons due to that, unlike other more major airlines.

    Best of luck in all your travels!

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I do not doubt you, Marissa — but between the cost and time of the positioning flights from where I am based and the stricter requirements pertaining to baggage and other fees, WOW becomes less of a value proposition for me.

      That does not necessarily mean that I will not try it as a passenger one day…

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