Two weeks ago I purchased a WOW Air $69 one-way ticket from San Francisco to Copenhagen. At the time I made the initial purchase, my plan was to fly round trip, however, during the two hours I spent planning a travel itinerary for Europe, the $88 Stockholm to SFO and $97 Copenhagen to SFO ticket prices went up to $186. I ended up booking Norwegian Airlines from Stockholm to Oakland for $111 one-way to get back to California.
Loyalty Traveler – Oops! I did it again! WOW $69 fares LAX/SFO to Europe (Jan 10, 2017).
My Loyalty Traveler pledge at the time I first wrote about these deals was my plan to fly without paying any additional fees for bags, seat assignments, food or drink. They don’t even give you free water on WOW. This is a low cost carrier ticketing experiment I have been wanting to do for some time now.
My last WOW trip in 2015 was my worst low fare deal ever.
I flew WOW Air Boston to Copenhagen in July 2015. That WOW Air $364 round trip ticket was my worst low fare deal to Europe ever. That flight was taken after WOW Air had only been in service a couple of months for USA routes. At the time there was a bag fee for a carry-on over 5kg /11 lb. A heavier bag cost $37 each way. A checked bag was $67 each way and seat assignments were $3 for each of the four segments round trip. And no free Iceland stopovers were allowed.
My final ticket price was $586 for Boston to Copenhagen. Plus I had to buy a separate ticket from California to Boston.
Feb 4 Update: WOW carry-on bag policy changed with no consumer advance notice as of February 1, 2017. Now only one personal item is allowed, not two items, the benefit I had the week before on WOW. Passengers may take one carry on bag for free with maximum dimensions 17″ x 13″ x 10″ and it must fit under your seat. A second carry-on bag with standard 22″ x 18″ x 10″ dimensions can be purchased for $51 each way for West Coast to Iceland and an additional $21 for Iceland to Europe destinations.
My $69 WOW all-in ticket to fly San Francisco to Copenhagen on January 24 would now cost an additional $72, or $151 all-in one way SFO-CPH with the new online bag fees to fly with the same gear I packed for this January trip.
Wow. What a difference 18 months makes!
WOW Air expanded USA routes over the past 18 months, including LAX and SFO. In early 2016 WOW added a free stopover in Iceland and August 2016 WOW changed their carry-on bag policy to allow 10kg/22lb free carry-on as long as the bag dimensions are only 17” x 13” x 10”.
I have wanted to fly WOW again to see if the new rules make WOW more competitive.
My definitive answer is YES. My $69 WOW ticket to Copenhagen, Denmark was the real deal.
I arrived in Copenhagen this morning after flying 8 hours SFO to Keflavik KEF airport Iceland and then connecting to a WOW intra-Europe 3-hour flight to Denmark.
I only paid $69 all-in. No additional bag fees and no additional seat fees. I brought my own food and water on the plane, along with two approved size and weight carry-on bags for free.
My main bag is an Eddie Bauer backpack 17 inches tall, 12 inches wide and 10 inches deep when stuffed. Actually 14 inches wide when my water bottle is in outside pocket as shown.
My 9 day winter pack list for Scandinavia and Central Europe includes 5 pair underwear, 3 short sleeve t-shirts, 3 long sleeve shirts, two sweaters, winter parka, 5 pairs small socks and four pair heavy socks, waterproof boots, Merrill walking shoes, one pair black jeans, one pair Levi Dockers, two pair leggings, exercise shorts, wool cap, winter headband, toiletries and laptop computer.
Jeans, tennis shoes, t-shirt, long-sleeve shirt, sweater and parka were on my body. The WOW plane was actually cold and I wore my sweater and long-sleeve shirt through most of the flight. My parka was my pillow for the window seat.
My boots, long underwear and socks filled the SeaLine bag, a waterproof bag I normally use to store my computer in my backpack in case I walk in a rainstorm. That filled blue bag had dimensions 17” x 8” x 6”. The permitted size is 17” x 8” x 8” and must fit under the seat.
WOW tags overhead bin bags yellow and underseat bags purple. (I am color-blind, so those might not be the correct color descriptions since I see colors differently than most people.)
My parka pockets were stuffed with a pound of broccoli, hummus and an apple for the journey. Iceland is kind of expensive for food in the airport.
Since I had no checked bags, I printed my boarding pass online and went straight to security. The TSA line at SFO was the fastest I have experienced in the past year.
The minimum price for a pre-assigned seat at the time I purchased my ticket two weeks ago was $13 for a selection from four middle seats in the middle section of the A330 2-4-2 configuration. Nearly every seat on the plane was priced $51 one-way.
At online check-in I was assigned a window seat for free.
On the Plane
Despite $69 one-way fares two weeks ago for LAX and SFO to Copenhagen, Stockholm, Edinburgh and Bristol, the back section of the plane was less than two-thirds occupied. Most people sitting in the 2-seat window sections ended up with no seat mate. I was one of those fortunate passengers too, so I could stretch out across two seats for the 8-hour flight to Iceland.
I snapped this photo before realizing I would not have a seat mate. I moved my gear to the other seat pocket and under the aisle seat.
WOW IFE is no IFE
I have flown Norwegian several times to and from Europe to California. The main difference between WOW and Norwegian is the inflight entertainment system. Norwegian 787 Dreamliner aircraft have seatback monitors with on demand selection of movies, TV, games and interactive flight map. There are no music selections though. I tend to watch several movies on the 10 to 11 hour California to Scandinavia Norwegian Airlines flights.
WOW has no inflight entertainment system. The only seat feature available on WOW is AC power, however, I only saw one power outlet for the two seats.
I plugged in my computer and worked a couple hours on the plane until I realized that my computer was running on battery power and running out of power. I looked at the guy’s power outlet in the middle section and it had a green light. My AC power light was red. (Even though I am primarily red/green color blind, I could see the difference in the light colors).
After playing around with the seat AC outlet I realized that a small black button on the AC outlet turned the power light red and off when pressed. A normal iPhone US style AC-adaptor pressed the black button when inserted and cut off the power supply. I had three different European adaptors with me. Only one inserted into the AC power outlet without touching the black button. I was able to continue working on my laptop and charge my phone. I never asked the flight attendant to explain what the situation is with the AC power, but it worked with a small Europe adaptor that allowed me to plug in my US cord to power my stuff.
WOW company color is pink for planes and uniforms. But only the SFO aircraft is officially GAY, according to the inflight magazine article on different aircraft names in WOW fleet.
I don’t know how many other people were flying on $69 fares, but I have to say that many people on the flight were noticeably in a good mood and talkative passengers. I am sure the light occupancy contributed to the good feeling about the flight experience.
As for me, I actually slept 2 or 3 hours of the 8 hour flight since there were no movie or music distractions to occupy my flight time and there were no northern lights to be seen during the times I checked.
Keflavik Airport KEF Iceland
I had 2.5 hours at KEF between WOW flights. I went through Passport Control and got a second Iceland stamp in my passport as Keflavik was my European port of entry.
At 4am most of the airport shops were still closed until 5 or 6am. I checked out some Icelandic goods and read wall signs. There was an adorable North 66 sweater I saw, but after I looked up the USD to ISK exchange rate, the $280 price tag turned me away.
In the WOW inflight magazine I read an advertisement for a Reykjavik restaurant that served Puffin and Minke whale meat. I have been offered free whale meat in Bergen, Norway, but as a whale watching lover from Monterey, I won’t even consider tasting it.
The store with the sweater also had a stuffed puffin for sale at 31,900 ISK. That is $278. I’ll just call the KEF Icelandic gift shop the $280 store.
I spent part of the time simply reading signs and messages and billboards on the walls.
Iceland runs on Renewable Energy
KEF Iceland Passport Control
My bit of wisdom for WOW Air is better than weight, pack two free small carry-on bags for your WOW trip, gamble on free seat assignment and pick up the periodic deep discount sale tickets like this month’s $69 LAX and SFO one way fares if you want a really cheap ticket to Europe.
Iceland had ice at Keflavik Airport, but I did not see any snow. Ironic that the January morning temperature around freezing on my drive from Monterey to San Francisco was actually colder than Keflavik, Iceland at 37F when we arrived. I saw snow on some Santa Cruz Mountains, but no snow in Iceland. Granted it was still really dark at 6:30am when we departed for Copenhagen.
The aircraft wings were de-iced before take-off. The flight to Copenhagen was under 3 hours and I slept most of it.
Bottom line: I flew San Francisco SFO to Copenhagen for $69 with WOW Air. I think that was my best low fare deal to Europe ever.
Tomorrow I leave Copenhagen CPH for Prague, Czechia.