WOW airlines is shuttered. This post was written in 2017. However, some of these warnings still ring true if you are considering flying a budget airline.
I jumped on a $200 round trip airfare from Miami to Reykjavik, Iceland. Immediately after I booked, I started reading one negative review after another for WOW airlines. I was reeling. Did I make a huge mistake?
Turns out, if you go into it with the lowest of expectations, you’re unlikely to be disappointed. Here’s my recommendations and observations after having flown WOW airlines on an international flight.
1. Unless you are going to a nudist colony, you’ll need more than your personal item and it will cost you.
At the time of this post, a carry on bag 22x18x10in including handles and wheels is allowed for $44.99 each way, as long as it weighs no more than 26 lbs. I will tell you that I measured my carry on bag I planned to bring on the flight and it was within their specifications. There was no problem flying out of Miami but flying out of Reykjavik they made me put it in the bag checker and it didn’t fit. A checked bag can weigh up to 44 lbs.
2. Booking in advance matters
As some people unfortunately found out, if you wait until you get to the airport to pay for carry-on or checked bags, it will cost. A lot. A carry-on was more than double the price (I heard the gate agent quote some poor soul $100 for her carry-on) just before we boarded. In fact, there are four stages of paying for bags: At the time of booking, Online after booking, At Check-in, At the Gate. I had pre-paid for our bags a couple days before our flight. However, I noticed that the cost of both had increased about seven dollars from the time I booked my flight to a couple days before our flight. WOW Air is notorious for continually raising prices.
3. Paying for your seats? That doesn’t guarantee them on WOW Airlines!
By the way, are you following me on Twitter?
Once we boarded our flight, negotiations began as passengers tried to finagle their way into sitting by their loved ones. What I found out with WOW Airlines is that you can choose your seat at a cost of $12.99 when booking your flight, but that doesn’t guarantee it. They have this clause that if they change the aircraft, your paid seat option goes away. I only found this out the night before my WOW Airlines flight when I went to check in. I called them and they wanted me to pay more.
But I decided to take my chances at the Miami airport and the gate agent sat me and my husband together. The gate agents at WOW Airlines in Reykjavik were not so kind. In fact they were quite rude, just stating “you should have paid for a seat,” not listening to the fact that we had. So we sat apart on that 8 hour flight despite the fact I paid for us to sit together. It might not be unbearable for adults, but quite different if you have kids. You can see the from the Twitter exchange above, WOW Airlines refunded the $$, though they were not going to unless I asked!
4. WOW Airlines planes are big, so they take longer to load
Many standard aircrafts take about 20 minutes to begin the boarding process. With WOW Airlines, they begin boarding about 45 minutes before the plane takes off. This is because the planes are so big, it takes quite a long time for everyone to get to their seat.
Watch the video of my first time flying with WOW Air:
5. Bring your own entertainment
WOW Air saves money be not providing any entertainment on board, (there are no monitors on the backs of seats) so be sure to download movies to watch or bring books and magazines to read on your long flight. They will rent iPads to you for around $20 per flight and they come pre-loaded with movies and games.
6. Did I mention nothing is free on WOW Air?
No pillows or blankets, no snacks (yes, even on those long international flights). Not even water is included but you can buy it for around $3. Can I tell you a secret though?I asked for a cup of ice and they gave it to me at no charge! Squee! I felt like I won the lottery!
7. Food and Drink on WOW Airlines
You can save money by bringing your own food and drink on WOW flights instead of buying their food. There were a couple options like sandwiches, that were priced around $10 or $11 but we brought our own snacks and sandwiches, so not to have to pay. We also brought an empty water bottle with us that we could fill before we boarded our flight so we didn’t have to pay for drinks either. One of the good things about purchasing food or drink on WOW Airlines, is that you are not limited to the time they designate for dining. Whenever you are hungry, just ring the bell and an attendant will come by and you can order whatever you like.
8. Plan for the worst / hope for the best strategy
We decided to not make any plans for the first day in Reykjavik in case the flight was delayed or cancelled as was stated in the many complaints I’d read online. We also decided to pack two bags: one to carry-on and bag to check, mixing our clothes for both me and my husband. That way we’d at least have clothing for the first 2-3 days should our bags be lost. To our surprise, there were no issues with baggage from WOW Airlines. Everything arrived as it should on both legs. Isn’t it sad we have to think like that for airline travel?
The verdict? I would fly WOW Air again for the low, low price. But I’m not in a rush to book anytime soon.