A super-cheap plane ticket is the holy grail of air travel, and it’s hard to beat $99 for an international flight. If you’ve ever seen such unbelievable fares online, you’ve no doubt run across WOW Air.
The Icelandic discount airline’s business plan has totally upended the trans-Atlantic travel industry. So how are they able to provide such cheap intercontinental travel?
WOW Air: What to know about cheap fares to Europe, Asia & Iceland
If you’re a budget-conscious traveler, WOW may be for you — but you’ll need to know how to avoid the gotcha fees and decide whether to pack light to truly take advantage, but more on that later.
Launched in 2012 by tech entrepreneur Skuli Mogensen, WOW started off with a fleet of just three airplanes flying $99 fares around Iceland. Today, the airline has about 20 planes. In part because of the ridiculously low fares, people around the world are checking out things to do in Iceland.
There’s no question that WOW Air offers some of the lowest prices on international travel you can find in the United States, but there are some things to be aware of about the budget airline. Whether you’re thinking about booking a flight for the first time or contemplating whether to buy another ticket, here are some things to know about WOW.
Frontier Airlines’ parent company buys stake in WOW
After financial problems briefly clouded its future, the airline, in desperate need of cash, found a suitor in late November 2018. Indigo Partners, a private equity firm based in Phoenix said it reached an agreement to buy a stake in WOW Air, according to a news release.
Indigo, the parent company of Frontier Airlines, has invested in a number of budget airlines. “We have a strategic vision for the airline, and look forward to working with its employees and agents to deliver that vision,” Mogensen said in a written statement.
Where does Wow Air fly?
WOW has numerous flights to Reykjavik from a handful of major U.S. cities like New York, Chicago, Cleveland, and San Francisco for $99. All in all, Wow services 37 cities. As of now, you can’t get to the Caribbean or Canada via WOW, but you can get to Asia, Iceland and Europe. See Wow’s route map here.
How old is Wow Air’s fleet?
WOW has one of the youngest fleets in the world. Their planes have an average age of less than three years old, the airline says.
The airline operates a number of A330-300 aircraft, which seat 345 people. The planes have names like TF-MOM, TF-DAD, and TF-LUV to differentiate how special they are to the company as well as to commemorate corporate milestones (TF-MOM is also known as Freyja, the Nordic goddess of love).
How much do seats and extra legroom cost on Wow Air?
Much of WOW’s business plan revolves around tiered pricing and penalizing you if you don’t book online. You may buy a plane ticket, reserving a seat is extra. A standard seat (29-31 inches of legroom) costs $6.99 if you purchase during your online booking. After booking, you’ll pay $7.99 for the same seat.
When it comes to legroom, Wow has plenty of options but you will pay for them all.
- The Standard Plus seats cost $14.99 to reserve online and $2 more after that.
- XL Extra Legroom — At least 32 inches of legroom: Starting at $39.99
- XXL Extra Legroom — At least 35 inches of legroom. Starting at $49.99
- BigSeat — At least 37 inches of legroom + wider seat and armrests: Starting at $199.99
How are WOW Air’s fares structured?
Like many airlines, WOW has different fare classes on each plane. Here’s what you get with each one:
- WOW Basic: One personal item (you must buy a seat as well)
- WOW Plus: One personal item, one carry-on bag, one checked bag, optional cancellation protection and a Standard seat
- WOW Comfy: One personal item, one carry-on bag, one checked bag, cancellation protection and the best XL Legroom seat available
- WOW Premium: One personal item, one carry-on bag, two checked bags, cancellation protection, priority check-in, fast track security, in-flight meal, and a BigSeat
What is WOW Air’s cancellation policy?
If for some reason you need to cancel your WOW booking, if you do it within 24 hours of purchase, the airline will provide a full refund. The only stipulation is that it had to have been purchased on WOWair.us and at least one week prior to travel.
There are some fares where cancellation is possible, but not a refund.
Also, if you change your flight, you will need to rebook your seats. Even though you have a plane ticket, your seats do not follow you on other flights. You have to either book new seats online or via their call center.
What is WOW Air’s baggage policy?
WOW allows each passenger one personal item for free, but you’ll have to pay for your carry-on bag with a Basic fare. Checked bags cannot exceed 62 inches in height + length + width.
Personal items can’t exceed 17 x 13 x 10 in (22 lbs) including handles and wheels. They must also be able to fit under the seat in front of you. As for the carry-on, it can’t be larger than 22 x 18 x 10 in (26 lbs) including handles and wheels.
Thinking of hitting the slopes? One pair of skis or snow boots is going to cost you $59.99 per leg.
How do customers view WOW Air’s service?
When it comes to customer satisfaction, WOW came in dead last among air carriers in the 2018 global airline report commissioned by AirHelp, which looks at thousands of customer reviews, overbooking complaints and claims analyses.
More ways to save money on WOW Air
Wow has a Best Fares page that offers the lowest prices you can find on the airline.
Avoid the call center: Make sure you book your ticket and bags online. The difference could be as much as $60 for a bag.
Also be aware of gotcha fees. On a typical $99 flight from Boston to Reykjavik, here’s where the gotcha fees could get you:
Your carry-on bag — $30
Cancellation protection — $29.99 per leg
Service charge if you book through WOW’s air call center — $27.99 per leg
If your bags and seats are booked via the call center — $17.99 per leg