Should You Buy That Cheap WOW Air Ticket?
UPDATE: March 28, 2019
WOW Air has ceased operations. Here's what you need to know about WOW Air flights.
Perhaps as famous for their $99 (and occasionally $69) flight sales as they are for their vibrant purple livery, WOW Air is a budget airline based in Reykjavík, Iceland that offers cheap tickets for trips between North America and Europe.
But like a lot of ultra low-cost carriers (including both short-haul airlines like Spirit Airlines as well as long-haul carriers like Norwegian Air), WOW Air affords their outrageously inexpensive tickets by trading common amenities for greater savings.
For some travelers, however, the lack of a complimentary meal on a transatlantic flight comes as a serious shock. While you can certainly eat on a WOW Air flight, you'll have to pay for the luxury. Other details of a trip WOW Air passengers need to pay for? Seat selections, checked bags, and oversized carry-ons.
So is WOW Air really the deal it promises to be? For those who travel light, are flying solo, and never eat the inflight meal anyway, a WOW Air ticket is a serious bargain. But if you're used to (and use) those standard freebies, it may be worthwhile to splurge for a seat on a full-service carrier.
To give Travel + Leisure readers a complete — and honest — sense of what it's like to fly in those purple seats, we scoured the web for reviews from travelers who loved (and hated) their WOW experience. Be sure to ask yourself these key questions before booking a flight with WOW Air (or any scrupulous budget airline, for that matter).
Can You Pack Light?
One of the deciding factors for travelers considering a WOW Air ticket should be whether or not they plan on flying with a small backpack, or if they require multiple suitcases for six weeks worth of clothing.
“Knowing that this was a no-frills carrier, we only packed our backpacks to fit as personal items and brought lots of snacks [so] we wouldn’t have to pay extra...” — P. Dramer, AirlineEquality
Because for travelers who plan on checking luggage, WOW Air's bag fees can quickly add up.
“Checked bags are expensive on WOW Air," explained Patricia Magaña on SmarterTravel. "$48 when prepaid online, $67 at check-in, and double that for the second bag. A third bag costs $144 when prepaid online or $201 during check-in. Each bag may weigh as much as 44 pounds, and overage charges are $18 per kilo (2.2 pounds) per bag, up to 12 kilograms (26 pounds). Note that the checked bag fees are per flight segment, meaning you'll need to double the prices if your flight includes a single layover.”
What Do You Look for in a Seat?
If it's seatback entertainment, you may want to shop for flights with a different airline.
“Seats are bad," wrote TripAdvisor user Maiken-m. "No TV…Just don’t do it. There is nothing 'wow' about it.”
But otherwise, the airline's interiors received pretty rave reviews.
“WOW Air's fleet is much newer than many rival carriers," Magaña said on SmarterTravel. "Superseding similar budget lines, seats are still spiffy clean and come equipped with a built-in device charger. [And] despite its value model, WOW Air doesn't skimp on seat width and pitch.”
On TripAdvisor, Meg C agreed. “If you have realistic expectations and plan accordingly, this is a great airline. We flew to Iceland for less than the cost of many [domestic] U.S. flights. Standard leg room was better than many airlines, and seats were comfortable for a six-hour [flight]. Just plan ahead and bring food, water, and entertainment with you.”
Do You Want to Visit Iceland?
“One of the best selling-points [of] the airline: all flights connect in Keflavík," wrote travel blogger Becky, of The Girl and the Globe.
Regardless of where you're going, all international WOW Air flights have stopovers in Iceland. That means that even if the Land of Fire and Ice isn't your final destination, you can still check it out using the airline's free stopover program.
Are You Traveling Alone?
“Even though I confirmed our seats that morning for our flight, when we arrived at LAX, our seats were screwed up. We were no longer assigned to our seats and someone else had already checked into one of our seats. Unfortunately for us, the only two seats together were located at the back of the plane.” — James Dozer, Travel Codex
While Dozer's experience may have been due to a mix-up or computer glitch, travelers should still remember that seat assignments with WOW Air will cost you extra. But if you're traveling alone (and don't have particularly strong feelings about aisle or window seats) you can avoid the additional fee.