When I first saw fares as low as $69 on Iceland’s WOW air, I thought, “that has to be too good to be true.” Now – what can I say? I’m a believer! I nabbed two $69 one-way tickets from LAX to London Gatwick for my trip in late November! At that price, you could fly to Europe for three days and it would be worth it! As far as comfort goes, I had a very pleasant flight (or, as pleasant as I expected a budget airline to be!).
If you’re looking for a catch – there are definitely a few. Budget budget travel is definitely not for everyone, and I can already feel myself hitting that point in my adulthood where I finally start to put comfort before frugality. But this is Broke Girl’s Diary! Where you, me, and fellow budget travelers trek through the mud of discount discomfort to find the best deal and still experience the world! In this post I’ll take you through how to make the most of your WOW air booking!
Catch #1: The return flights won’t necessarily be at the same price – and they may be much higher
This all depends on what you book. I just booked a round-trip flight to Barcelona in the spring for $250 on WOW air, and both tickets were around the same price. When I booked my flight to London, the return fare was a few hundred dollars. So, like any good savvy plane-ticket-purchaser, I started to shop around. We found very inexpensive flights on Norwegian Airlines (another awesome budget airline), for $211 one way. Round trip to London for $280? Thank you, very much!
Catch #2: You don’t get free bags
That’s right – no luggage! As with Spirit or other budget airlines you might be familiar with, carry-on and checked luggage costs an extra fee. WOW air allows a personal item bag for free, and they’re actually more generous on the size than most other airlines! They allow underseat bags the size of 17x13x10 inches.
Now, even for me, this was a bit scary at first. How am I supposed to get all the cute photos in all the cute places if I only have two shirts?? Please jump over to my post Personal Item Packing List for a Week in Europe (Winter). I challenged myself to pack for a week in Europe in the allotted underseat bag. I crawled Craigslist until I found the perfect bag, and I can tell you – it made it through to London and Belgium without incurring an extra fee! I know we are used to over-packing, but it’s so freeing to pack less. While you might think everyone will notice you wore the same shirt in front of Big Ben and while you were eating a Belgian Waffle…. who cares? You got to see someplace new because you were willing to get a little outside your comfort zone in order to make the trip fit in your financial plan.
TIP: Both times I’ve flown WOW air, I’ve purchased (or split the cost of) a carry-on for the flight back or flew on an airline that included it. This way, you can still get souvenirs, food and clothes when you travel. That’s something I would never encourage you to sacrifice for the sake of saving a few dollars. Souvenirs are very special, and how a lot of us remember our travels. It can also take the pressure off packing everything so neatly for the flight home.
Catch #3: No entertainment or free food
So, this can be a good thing and bad thing. Airplane food isn’t the best, anyway, so it’s actually totally fine in my book to pack my own dinner! While they serve everyone else food that you saved $45 on (!!), just pull out your bag stuffed with Pret A Manger!
While you do have the option to purchase food, you don’t have the option to purchase entertainment. The downside is, movies are a great way to kill time. On the way to Europe, usually you can sleep through the flight. But on the way back, reading for 9 to 11 hours can get a little dull. Thank the tech gods for Netflix and Kindles. I downloaded TV shows and movies to my Kindle Fire, and I had my own little TV screen on my tray, curated with my own picks! See – there’s a way around everything. Stick with me, kid!
Catch #4: No free seating assignment
This might be a big one for some travelers, like couples or families. I’m not an expert, but my solution has worked for me (knock on wood) 100% of the time. Check in IMMEDIATELY upon check-in opening. Set an alarm on your phone for the 24 hour before check-in time, and check you and your traveling partner in. This way, I was able to sit with my buddy! Could be luck, could not! Either way, this catch can be a bummer, but definitely not a reason to stay home!
As of the time of this post, WOW air flies to almost all of the major US cities, and offers great fares to Europe from all of them. I found my experience to be positive and comfortable, and I’m excited they made it possible for me to take another trip to Europe so soon! Stay tuned for my post on Barcelona and Iceland!