Wow Airlines is an Iceland-based “budget” airline that offers insanely low fares to/from Europe. They attempt to make up for these low fares by charging for extra baggage, seat assignments, and even snacks on-board. I flew Wow Airlines on my home from Paris, I had a surprisingly good experience.
• New York
• Los Angeles
• San Francisco
Fly To (on sale destinations):
Some things to be aware of:
- All flights to/from Europe will have to connect in Reykjavik, Iceland (their hub)
- Carry-on baggage allowance is limited to a small backpack, bag or purse, anything else will cost you (more on that below)
- Return flights from Europe to the US will be more expensive as customs and departure fees will be included in ticket cost
- You will need to bring your own entertainment on-board, although my Wow Airlines seat had a 110v outlet to charge my laptop in-flight
- Only water will be provided, snacks and light meals can be purchased on-board for roughly the same cost as any other airline (menu link) (read my tips on food you can bring)
- If you don’t pay for an advance seat reservation (starting at $9.99 per flight), there is a chance you and your party will not be seated together (I gambled and Alyssa and I received a full row to ourselves)
Included in your ticket price is a single carry-on bag, better known as a “personal item”. This free item cannot exceed 17″ x 13″ x 10″ and must weigh under 22lbs. If you can stuff 22lbs worth of crap in a bag that size, props to you. They recently updated their baggage policy, Wow used to allow a second free carry-on piece, no more.
I own the Samsonite Underseater Small which is 13″ x 13″ x 9″ and weighs about 6lbs empty. The Samsonite Underseater Large is a great option since it measures in at 16″ x 13″ x 9″ and weighs in at roughly 7.5lbs. That leaves you with 14.5lbs of “room” to keep under the 22lb allowance.
Check out this YouTube video of the Underseater so you can get an idea of how much stuff you can squeeze in your “free” carry-on bag.
Pay to Play:
If you want to bring a second carry-on bag, you’ll be looking at roughly $50 each direction for a suitcase that does not exceed; 22″ x 18″ x 10″
Checked baggage (also called hold luggage), is roughly $70 each direction. You are permitted to stuff 44lbs in your hold luggage, I recommend sharing this bag with a traveling partner. If you and a spouse/travel buddy can share a hold luggage piece, that comes out to only $35 a person each direction. Keep in mind in you are each still allowed 22lbs of “personal item” as a carry-on.
How about the $69 flights?
Here is a flight from San Francisco to London-Gatwick for only $69.99 one-way
Like I mentioned before, your return flight is going to be noticeably more expensive. This is due to departure fees and customs fees when returning to the US. Departing flights from the U.K. charge a hefty fee, on top of the US charging a customs fee.
If you return from Ireland, for example, departure fees are a bit cheaper. The cheapest return flight from London to San Francisco is roughly $260, compare that to $180 to return to San Francisco to from Dublin, Ireland. You can catch a flight on British Airways or Aer Lingus from London to Dublin for around $50. You can see two cities and save money by departing from Ireland. (in this example)
Denmark charges fewer fees than the U.K., that means you can grab a San Francisco to Copenhagen round-trip for $226. If you are able to get by with your Samsonite Underseater and 22lbs of luggage, you can score an amazing deal to Europe. Those that like to pack heavy, reserve a seat, and buy a bunch of snacks on-board, might find that Wow Airlines is no longer a cost savings solution. If you are fine with the bare minimum and advanced planning, you can really save some money!