Update: My goodness! Can you believe how quickly Wow Air closed? I guess I was lucky to go on my trip when I did. Read about the rise and fall of Wow Air over at Simple Flying.
Before flying Wow Air this past summer, I’d never heard of the airline. Turns out their a super low-budget airline out of Iceland. For me, the cost of the tickets was almost too good to be true. It cost me about $360 for a round-trip flight from Chicago to Paris. I remember my first ever international flight from Chicago to London about 8 years ago cost me over a $1000, so the fact that I can now cross the Atlantic for less than $400 is insane to me.
However, soon after booking the flights I became a little nervous, as I hadn’t realized exactly how low-cost the airline was. No snacks? No TVs? No free water? My flight was going to be about 6 hours to Reykjavik for a one hour layover and then another 5 hours to Paris, so needless to say I was a little worried. I read a few reviews online about Wow Air, but there were enough negative ones that I wasn’t entirely reassured. Still, I had booked the flights and there was no backing out now.
Here’s what I discovered.
This one was a big concern for me. I’m 5’ 9” and my mother is almost 6 feet tall. On the way to Paris, we sat in Economy and while it wasn’t the smallest amount of legroom I’ve ever experienced, it wasn’t comfortable either. If I sat up straight I had about an inch of space between my knees and the seat in front of me.
On the way back my mom asked if we could upgrade. I think we wound up paying an extra 20ish dollars for each person on each leg of the journey on the way back in order to move to the Big Seats. So in total we paid about an extra $80 for the two of us and it was totally worth-it. If you’re shorter, by all means, sit in economy. But if you’re 5’ 9” or more, spring for the Big Seats. It was great not to have to constantly shift my legs from one corner to the other for an entire 11 hour flight. Also, since not too many people seemed willing to pay for the Big Seats. We even had an extra seat between us. There were tons of extra space in the Big Seats.
I was determined not to pay for water or snacks on the flight. The in-flight snacks and drinks are priced through the roof. Think $15 USD for a coke and a basic sandwich. So before we flew we bought some nuts, granola bars, and dried fruit at the supermarket. We then packed these in our carry-ons. This was plenty to keep us running before we got to Paris. We also bought some water bottles in the airport before getting on the flight. It is sooo essential to stay hydrated in the air. The airport water bottles were a little pricey, but not as bad as the water bottles would have been on board, so all-in-all I feel we came out on top, and not having airline food was no big deal.
The trick is to pack light. You get about one standard-sized backpack worth of a “carry-on” for free. Keep in mind that this is pretty small. My mother and I both bought some JanSport backpacks for the journey. I packed most of my clothes in here, but I knew my mother would want a little more baggage, so we sprung for an extra carry-on (the rolly type) when I was booking the flights. This was a bit expensive. In total I think that it cost an extra $90 USD to include this carry-on for the entire journey. I put my spare pair of shoes in here and my mother used the rolly carry-on for the majority of her clothes. She used her backpack for some small things like notebooks, cameras, snacks, etc. Even with this extra baggage cost, the tickets were still far less expensive than most other flights.
However, while I was in the airport, I saw so many people trying to bring extra baggage on the flight and having to pay absurd rates at the airport. Just plan ahead. Make sure that if you think you need extra baggage to book it when you book the flight for the best deal. Otherwise pack real light (think sundresses, leggings, one pair of practical shoes). You’ll probably find that you don’t really need a whole lot and that washing your clothes while abroad is cheaper than packing them all before you leave.
There are no TVs, but there are plenty of plugs on board to charge your electronics. Just download some movies and TV shows to keep you entertained before you go. I brought my Kindle with three new movies downloaded onto it and two new books. I also picked up one of those headphone splitters for cheap at Walmart so me and my mom could watch movies on my Kindle together.
It was plenty to keep me entertained and to be honest, I didn’t really miss the onboard TVs.
5. So was it worth it?
For me, yes, hands down, no question about it. Even with the few extras we paid for, the flights were still soo much cheaper than anything else out there. We had a great journey and a great time in Paris that we wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise.
My tips for anyone thinking of taking Wow Air are as follows…
- Know what you’re getting into. Buy snacks beforehand, prepare your own entertainment, and pack light or pay for the extra baggage before you get to the airport. Basically do your research and plan for any possible extra fees.
- If you’re tall, save yourself the headache and book the Big Seats.
- Do make sure that if you’re extra expenses are adding up that there aren’t any other cheaper flights. For me the costs worked out, but before you book, make sure they’re really going to work for you.
I hope this was helpful! All in all, I believe Wow Air can be a cheap option for the budget conscious traveler. Just do your research and plan accordingly for a great trip!