If you’ve been asking yourself “WTF IS WOW AIRLINES?!” ever since reading either the title of this post OR the first of my recent travel posts (it’s right here, dummy), don’t worry… First of all, you’re not alone, WOW Airlines is relatively new (founded in 2011), so not many people know about it. Secondly, I’m about to tell you, so read on.
Have you heard of discounted, cheap-o domestic airlines, such as Spirit or Allegiant? Well, WOW is like those, but, to Europe and Asia. According to their website, “WOW air is a happy low-fare, long-haul airline based in Iceland. The airline serves 38 destinations across Europe, North America, and Asia. WOW air is committed to providing the cheapest flights to and from Iceland and across the Atlantic while providing a memorable service all the way.”
YOU HAD US AT CHEAP FLIGHTS TO EUROPE, WOW!
When WOW announced that it was adding Pittsburgh to its list of airports it flies out of, Joel and I got pretty excited. So $99 flights to Iceland? YEP. $189 to Copenhagen? FOR SURE. I can fly to Tel Aviv for $139?! YOU BET YOUR ASS YOU CAN! We can go back to Paris for $149?! YAAAAS.
Woah woah woah, pump the brakes. This all started sounding too good to be true. When I typed “wow airlines reviews” into a google search, I wasn’t really shocked to see that they were rated pretty low (a lot of “one star” ratings). But as I read on, the reasons they were being given such low ratings, were pretty dumb. If people had done their research on why they were able to fly at such a low rate beforehand, they wouldn’t have much to complain about.
We booked WOW Airlines despite their reviews because the deal was too sweet to pass up. Here’s the thing: If you like to be spoiled on transatlantic flights with pillows, blankets, meals, and entertainment provided by the airline, DO NOT BOOK WOW. If you don’t care about any of that and just want to get to your destination, THEN THIS IS THE AIRLINE FOR YOU! Wouldn’t you rather save money on transportation and spend it when you get there (wherever “there” may be)?
Since we have now successfully used WOW, we can fully endorse and recommend this airline, but there are some things you should know…
- $99 is the base price. At the very, least you’ll end up spending $10 per flight to reserve your seat. Example: we flew to Iceland, then to Paris, then back to Iceland, then home and had to reserve seats on each flight costing $40 per person.
- Flight costs will vary by date. Duh. It was significantly cheaper for us to fly home on Friday than it was on Sunday, so that’s what we did.
- You get one free personal item (purse or backpack) all other items will cost you per flight. This factor made me nervous at first because we really crammed our backpacks full and I was afraid they wouldn’t fit the allotted “free” size, but it turns out I could have squeezed stuff into all of the other pockets and it would have definitely fit the bill.
- We did end up sharing one paid carry on bag which is the way to do it! It’s such a breeze to get through customs when you don’t have checked luggage because it’s one less step to take (plus, with WOW, you pay more for checked luggage than for a carry on). Read their baggage FAQs here.
- The grand total for both Joel and I to fly to both Paris and Iceland, with one paid for carry on bag, was around $1400. THAT’S INSANE. A roundtrip ticket to/from Europe for about $700 per person!!! Please tell me you realize what a steal that is! And you could definitely get flights for less than that.
So you’ve booked your flight on WOW and you’re off on your next adventure, but keep in mind, from here on out, nothing else is included in the price you already paid for your flight, seat reservation, and luggage (if you brought any). Here’s how we got by on our first WOW flight and what we’ll do differently next time.
- Food/water isn’t ridiculously overpriced like I assumed it would be on WOW flights (I was expecting $11 for water because an airport employee said it would be that much, but it was $3 per bottle). We ate dinner in the terminal beforehand and brought snacks from home and big water bottle to share anyway.
- You can pay extra for more leg room, but it won’t make the seats comfortable.
- You can pay extra for comfier seats, but only on certain planes.
- Holy shit, the seats are so uncomfortable. Bring an inflatable butt pillow and a neck pillow. Wear a jacket and use that as a blanket. Better yet, pay the little extra cost for a carry on bag and fill it with pillows & blankets.
- DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT sit in the seats in front of the exit row. Not only do they not have a lot of leg room, but they don’t recline. Chances are you’ll throw your back out trying to get a little bit cozy…. trust me.
- Bring books. Download movies and podcasts. Make playlists of your favorite jams. Pack a travel journal and pen. You like adult coloring books? bring one. You have at least 5 hours ahead of you, plus connecting flights, and nobody can twiddle their thumbs for that long. And good luck sleeping without that butt pillow we talked about!
Although none of our four flights actually boarded when they said they were going to, the most we were ever delayed getting to a city was 15 minutes. The only other slightly annoying thing about WOW is the seats, which as I said above, are not cozy. Still, the prices can’t be beat and the customer service is great! And I didn’t even mention that the planes are magenta and the flight attendants are beautiful Icelandic babes who wear old school stewardess outfits THAT ARE ALSO PINK.
WOW Air gets a solid 4.8 out of 5 in my book.
Since we know some people who have also flown WOW, I asked them to give me quotes about their experiences.
“First, let’s get the obvious out of the way. The WOW flight attendants and pilots won the genetic lottery. I’ve never flown on such an attractive vessel before. I found the service to be hospitable and relaxed. I had ordered a special vegan meal ahead of time (falafel salad – highly recommend) and they got it to me no problem, which isn’t always the case. When we flew direct from Pittsburgh to Reykjavik, we upgraded to the extra legroom seats in the front row because my husband is tall; having a bit of space to spread out was nice on a longer flight, but I’m not sure it was worth the cost. Lastly, I loved the throwback vibe of stepping onto the tarmac and taking a bus to the terminal when arriving at the airport in Iceland. It felt very Hollywood glam, except I was sleep-deprived and wearing a windbreaker.” –@EndlessWeekend
“They’re good.” –@NMalburg
“I would use WOW again for their flights, yes. It beats $1200 round trip [on any other airline]… But I wish we didn’t get in trouble for drinking the alcohol we bought at the duty free store…” –@Uncle_Bam467
Believe it or not, this is NOT a sponsored post, I just really like traveling for cheap. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about our experience with WOW.
With new cities being added to the ever growing list of WOW routes, European and Asian travel is no longer for just the mega rich or those who have been scrounging and saving airline miles. Soooo where to next?!