Jul032015

WOW Air. My worst low fare deal to Europe ever!

Last October, I jumped on the introductory fares from Iceland’s WOW Airlines, paying $363.52 for a round trip ticket for Boston to Copenhagen, Denmark for travel in July 2015. Boston to Iceland was only about $270 round trip for summer travel at the time I purchased our tickets.

Summer airfare deals to Europe have been hard to find over the past decade in my experience. Summer is typically miles burning season. With eight months to find an airfare deal from San Francisco to Boston or a 25,000 miles award ticket, this would be a great deal – or so I thought.

WOW Air! My worst low fare deal to Europe ever.

$363.52 is a great ticket price for summer travel between the USA and Europe. I purchased tickets for Kelley and I to fly to Copenhagen, Denmark in July 2015 with the intent of taking her around Norway and Sweden. I thoroughly enjoyed my two week trip to Norway in September 2014 and wanted Kelley to experience Scandinavia with me in 2015.

So, why am I not raving about the WOW Air low fare?

The model of low cost carriers is to entice the public with low airfare deals and then charge the passenger for all other services.

Here are the supplemental add-ons I paid for our Copenhagen tickets:

Seat Assignment Fee

$3.00 per Seat Assignment per segment. Boston – Reykjavik, Iceland – Copenhagen, Denmark and back is four segments X 2 passengers = $24.00 to have assigned seats. To avoid a middle seat and keep us together during the flights, I paid $24.

Yesterday, we boarded the aircraft in Iceland for the flight to Denmark to realize that WOW Air had changed my seat assignment and we were separated by 11 rows on the aircraft with my assigned window seat changed to an aisle seat.

WOW Air has both Checked Bag Fees and Carry-On Bag Fees

The bag fees will determine if your WOW Airline ticket is really a great deal. There is no wiggle room on the bag fees. Your no fee carry-on bag can only be a maximum 5 kg or 11 lbs. and you are only allowed one carry-on bag aboard the aircraft. You must pay a carry-on bag fee if you want to take more than a 5kg bag onboard as your single carry-on. Even then, your carry-on can’t weigh more than 12 kg or 26 pounds.

WOW Air bags sign

WOW Airlines Bag Fees for USA to Europe

Perhaps the biggest challenge to the consumer is figuring out exactly what bag fees you will be charged. Bag fees are high for WOW Air travel and since that is the real money-maker for the airline, each passenger’s checked bags and carry-on bags are weighed.

Here are the basic fees for normal bags.

Boston or Baltimore to Iceland bag fees

  • one carry-on bag, up to 5kg or 11 lbs in weight = free.
  • one carry-on bag, up to 12 kg or 26 lbs in weight = $29 one way or $58 for a round trip flight.
  • You are only permitted one piece of carry-on luggage.
  • $48 per checked bag one-way, up to 20kg or 44 lbs. = $96 round trip.

At the very least, most passengers need to add $58 to the round trip ticket price for one carry-on bag or $96 for one checked bag and you can carry-on an 11 lb. bag for free. If you need two bags for your travel, one carry-on and one checked bag adds $154 to your low fare deal to Iceland.

Round that up to an even $160 over the ticket price if you want two bags and a seat assignment for the outbound and inbound flight to Iceland.

Boston or Baltimore to a European destination beyond Iceland.

  • One checked bag with maximum weight = 20kg/44 lbs.= $67 one way or $134 round trip.
  • One carry-on bag, up to 12 kg = $38 one-way or $76 round trip.

Most airlines let you bring on one carry-on aboard the aircraft and a small personal bag like a small backpack, purse, computer bag for free. That is not the case with WOW Air. We arrived to Boston Logan Airport to find a long line of passengers at the check-in counters with only four agents working. Every passenger had every bag weighed.

The weight of my computer and camera equipment alone meant I had to pay a carry-on bag fee.

When I purchased our tickets last year, I figured we could travel with one 44 lb. checked bag and one 26 lb. carry-on. Then, our plans changed with a three week trip and additional flights on other airlines. We needed to travel with two bags each.

After we arrived at Boston Logan Airport, we carefully checked our bag weight and redistributed items between our four bags. We were beside a Swiss Airlines counter and I took each bag over to the scale to get an accurate weight. This was vital since Kelley’s carry-on weighed 6.8kg upon initial weight check and that would have incurred a $57 carry-on bag fee at the WOW Air check-in counter. We moved heavier items from our two carry-on bags to our two checked bags to get our two carry-on bags under the maximum allowed weight limit.

WOW Air counter

The check-in line was long with about 100 passengers in front of us two hours before departure. The slow process of weighing each piece of every passenger’s luggage meant we were in line for about 45 minutes.  A WOW Air employee went through the line reminding people that only one carry-on bag per passenger was allowed and any carry-on over 5kg would require an additional fee.

There were some large bags in the line. Any checked bag over the 20 kg limit meant an additional $18 per kg overweight bag fee. I saw several passengers pull out credit cards to pay bag fees at the counter.

In summary, the final cost for our two WOW Air low fare tickets deal from Boston to Copenhagen came out to $547.52 per passenger:

  • $727.04 BOS-CPH round trip ticket price ($363.52 x 2 tickets)
  • $76.00 One 12 kg carry-on bag (my computer and camera).
  • $268.00 Two 20 kg checked bags (our bags were about 30 lbs. each)
  • free – Kelley’s carry-on bag weighed in at 4kg.
  • $24.00 seat assignments for eight flight segments at $3.00 each.

$1,095.04 = Total cost for two round trip WOW Air tickets Boston to Copenhagen for a final single ticket price of $547.52 per passenger.

That is certainly a reasonable deal for peak summer season round trip tickets from the east coast to Europe.

So, why do I call this my worst airfare deal to Europe ever?

Frequently, I tell Kelley about low airfare deals to places all over the world. Her favorite response is generally something like “Yes, but we don’t live in Boston”.

$547.52 is a great ticket price from Boston to Copenhagen, even with all the bag fees and seat assignment fees. But we live in Monterey, California and the cost to get to Boston was the cost factor that made this a poor deal for us.

When I bought our WOW Air tickets for this trip to Copenhagen in October 2014, I never imagined 2015 would be the year of low airfare deals from California to Europe.

Here is a fare I found on April 18, 2015 for San Francisco to Stockholm, Sweden on United Airlines.

United Airlines July 6 to July 20 $607.30

SFO-ARN $606 July15 United

This United ticket from San Francisco to Sweden would have included free seat assignments and we would have not paid any bag fees. Plus, we would have earned around 2,000 redeemable miles with Mileage Plus. Delta and British Airways had similar fares in the low $600s for July travel.

We ultimately paid about $250 more per ticket flying WOW Air for our Europe trip compared to the low United fare available to Stockholm ion United Airlines in April. And I got a great low airfare deal for the San Francisco – Boston tickets. Fares were typically over $500 per person.

Next time I need to take heed when Kelley responds to my low airfare find with the words “But, we don’t live in Boston.”

P.S. – The opportunity to transit in Iceland and eat a $33 breakfast with a smoked salmon omelet, salad and drink a local beer was a bonus feature of flying WOW Air. Our WOW Air flight experience was fine and unique. I’ll cover the WOW Air flights and Keflavik KEF Airport Iceland in the next post.

Loyalty Traveler – WOW Air Boston to Iceland flight review (July 4, 2015)

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

Pingbacks

  1. […] My previous article on WOW Air goes into detail about WOW bag fees and weights for the low cost carrier. You need to consider your travel needs and how much you will need to pay in bag fees to determine if you are really getting a low fare to Europe with WOW Air. My $363.52 round trip ticket price Boston to Copenhagen increased to $573.52 after bag fees for one 26 lb. carry-on ($76) and one checked bag ($134) round trip, plus $12 for seat assignments. Total ticket price $585.52. My wife had only a 5kg free carry-on bag and one checked bag ($134). Her total ticket price was $509.52. […]

Comments

  1. Our family of 4 flew Wow this summer also and had a great experience. Our only extra fee was $35 per person to upgrade to extra legroom. Two week vacation and no need for extra bag fees.

    Happy Wow passenger

  2. Sorry to hear you had a bad experience. Thanks to your post we scored tickets to Iceland for our honeymoon. No complaints with WOW – nice staff and experience. Pro tip for beating the 11lb carry on rule: wear a jacket and stuff laptop camera, etc into it during check-in. They weigh the bag and place a tag on it. Well, once the tag is on there is no need to weigh it again…

  3. I am going to preface this by saying that I am Canadian and I am used to N.American carriers and the services associated with tickets from N.American carriers. I do however live in Europe and travel a lot within Europe and Asia, often on LCC and I have always said, N.Americans and LCC do not mix because we are not used to paying for EVERYTHING! That is the reality of flying with a LCC – they do charge you for everything and they are very, very anal about their rules. When EasyJet says 1 carry-on, they mean 1 carry-on. Not one small suitcase and a purse, but rather one small suitcase that your purse must go in. As N.American we need to recalibrate our thinking when we are booking “these great deals” – particularly if they are with a LCC and remember, we aren’t flying N.American legacy carriers.

  4. Good point Heather,
    I don’t think its appropriate to evaluate a carrier with expectations that you shouldn’t have and they didn’t promise to provide , when using them.

  5. It’s a pointless to rant about a LCC’s fees. That’s their business model and people go into that fully aware. The prices are easily seen before you buy them. I had a great flight to Iceland on wow. Sorry you don’t see that.

  6. Get a luggage scale, the small one that you use to hang the luggage up to see how much the bag weighs. So you can figure out the weight of the luggage before you arrive at the airport.

  7. There is little “low cost” with most LCC’s. Our experience was to fly Flybe Southampton to AMS. We had arrived from a cruise so our bags were heavy. Two checked bags cost $128 for a 45min flight. No charge for our carry-ons.

  8. @Sharon – Pretty good when a family of four can travel with only 20kg of stuff for a two week trip.

    @Mike – too bad I lost my Scottevest on my Florida road trip last month. I don’t have any clothing to stuff my computer in. True about just getting that Wow bag tag and then add weight.

    @Ben – A scale would just be something else to carry in my luggage. We had been in Boston for a couple days before flying WOW so luggage weight was redistributed as we changed clothes and such. Using airport scale was not problem.

    I did not say I had a bad experience with WOW. I said the WOW tickets I purchased in October were not a low fare deal for us traveling from California since there were so many low fare deals offered by several airlines for travel from California to Scandinavia between March and May 2015. The cost to get to Boston was our added expense that negated the low WOW Air fare.

    @jt – Of course you are correct about United redeemable miles being revenue based. Changed it to 2,000 miles.

    @Sharon – I have not evaluated WOW Airlines yet

    @Sri – It is not pointless to rant about luggage fees when I write about travel and get paid for my travel articles. I knew the bag fees when I purchased my tickets on Wow Airlines. The price to Copenhagen was a good price for Boston to Copenhagen, even with bag fees.

    I have read dozens of travel blogs promoting Wow low fares, and most of the articles do not go into detail on bag fees. The point of the article is to make readers fully aware of the bag fees and that WOW Air will check the weight of your bags at check-in, so be sure you are underweight to avoid airport counter fees.

    We had all our bags paid for online prior to check-in and no problem. I saw several passengers pulling out credit cards and I assume they did not pass the weight test.

    Aside from stating WOW Air changed my seat assignment, I have not written about the flight to Iceland. I had a good flight.

    The point of this article is that I did not get a great low fare deal with my WOW Air ticket since there were so many low fare deals from California for summer travel to Europe on other airlines over the past few months. For us, it was the cost to travel from California to Boston that made the WOW ticket my worst low fare deal to Europe ever.

  9. @Ric, perhaps the title of the post could have been better-worded. “WOW Air to Copenhagen – low fare deal turned out not so low” or something along those lines might have been better.

    I’m looking forward to your review of the actual flight experience.

    You added additional bags after the initial booking, which I assume you factored out of your overall evaluation because you knew it would cost more and the need for extras was tacked on after your initial booking. Would you have booked it if you had known at the time that you would need the extra bags?

Comments are closed.