What To Know When Flying WOW

Jan 13, 2016

When WOW air dropped their Boston-Reykjavik route to $398 roundtrip last winter, I was instantly sold. Although I’ve seen them advertise this route for lower, this fare covered early fall when Northern Lights can already be seen and the weather is still temperate, and so it was then that I decided to check this bucket list destination off my list.

Come September, when it was still sweltering hot outside here in Boston, I wore my heaviest sweater, jacket and boots and headed for Logan Airport. I’ll explain why later.

Low-cost air carriers don’t often have the best reputation. With all the horror stories in mind, I kept my expectations low. But after my trip, I can say with full confidence that my experience with WOW air was really positive.

The crew members were all very friendly, I didn’t feel one bit that the service was any less than that of a regular airline, and to be able to save that much money, I’d fly with them again. So what was the secret? I just did my research.

You often hear that low cost air carriers come with a lot of “hidden” fees, and it’s the “surprise” of it that deters people. Well, they’re not so hidden if you know there will be fees.

With the helpful tool of the Internet, I researched to find out what they were. And here they are:

  • Seating: On top of your airfare, WOW air will charge an additional $7-8 if you’d like to pre-select your seat. I was fine with sitting wherever they assign me to so I opted out. And the end result? I was assigned to an “XL seat” with extra legroom that no one purchased in the first few rows of the plane. Score!
  • Luggage: It will cost you $48 for your first checked bag if you purchase it online beforehand. I opted out of that too and went with a carry-on. However, the carry-on is limited to 56 x 45 x 25 cm. and 11 lbs. max, eliminating the usual carry-on luggage as an option. I went with a large tote bag instead, and my partner went with a duffle. We wore all of our heaviest clothing, strapped our cameras around our necks, stuffed our pockets with whatever extra knick-knacks we could and walked up to the check-in desk. We passed the carry-on weight check, and it was our little victory.
  • Water and Snacks: There will be none of that, for free. And now that you know, just bring your own. I always purchase a bottle of water at the airport once I pass security.
  • Entertainment: Nope, not free. But for a five-hour flight (from Boston), just sleep. Or feel free to bring your own entertainment. They also have a great in-flight magazine that I would say most people around me were also reading.

So all in all, I spent nothing more than the cost of my airfare alone and had a great experience. It’s certainly doable, but may not be for everyone. As long as you do your research beforehand and have your expectations set, then there will be no surprises and hopefully result in a more pleasant experience.

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