Iceland Reykjavik Iceland KEF San Francisco SFO WOW Air (defunct)

WOW Air $70 SFO-KEF flight review, YMMV.

a city with snow covered mountains in the background

WOW Air has flown me to Europe for the second time in 2017 on a $70 total price for a San Francisco to Copenhagen, Denmark one-way ticket.

The deal this time is a WOW Air one-way ticket back to SFO was about $200 and Norwegian Airlines had better prices, as low as $118 for Oslo to Oakland one-way, but I will fly Norwegian Stockholm to Oakland for $149 for my return trip.

Loyalty Traveler – WOW Air $70 one-way tickets to Europe wasted my best made travel plans (Feb 15, 2017).

Loyalty Traveler – WOW Air SFO to Copenhagen $69 my best low fare deal to Europe ever (Jan 25, 2017).

Loyalty Traveler – WOW Air. My worst low fare deal to Europe ever! (July 3, 2015).

This was meant to be a trip with my wife, but she preferred hanging out in sunny, warm California drinking wine by the beach with her girlfriends. Seemed like a great alternative choice to me when I found myself walking the streets of Reykjavik with sleet blowing in my face on a wet and windy early April Monday afternoon.

But, that is getting ahead of my flight story.

WOW Aircraft wing

Online Check-in for WOW boarding pass

First issue I had was trying to figure out how to check-in for my WOW Air flight. I just checked out American and United Airlines websites and there are easy to find links, clearly labeled ‘check-in’  on the home page. WOW Air check-in link is available online by using the link ‘My Booking’ found in the ‘Flights’ tab drop down menu.

WOW Air check-in

I printed my boarding pass. At SFO, I was able to go directly to security.

Flight Times

The 22:20 departure time for SFO-KEF put me in Iceland at 13:30 in the afternoon when the airport was in full service mode.

WOW flight times for SFO to Iceland were morning flights when I flew SFO-KEF in January with an 11:20am departure and 4:00am arrival in Keflavik KEF. Most stores at Keflavik Airport do not open until 6am.

WOW Bag inspection

The deal with WOW is the ticket price is really a deal if you can travel small and light and let the airline assign you a seat.

Each guest is permitted one piece of carry-on baggage.

  • Included in your airfare is one small carry-on bag up to a maximum of 42x32x25cm / 17x13x10in (10kg/22 lbs) including handles and wheels.

At boarding time for the flight, the agent looked at my backpack and asked me if I had a bag tag. She directed me to the counter for bag inspection and a bag tag before I was allowed to board the aircraft.

A WOW Air yellow tag indicates a free carry-on bag for under the seat. A paid carry-on bag is a pink tag.

The counter agent placed a yellow tag on my backpack and I was ready to go. I had a raincoat stuffed in the sleeve of my winter parka to minimize the stuffed look of my small backpack and a few pounds of electronics filled my parka pockets. I did not have my backpack weighed for this flight or the WOW flight in January. I don’t think there are scales at the gate anyway.

WOW Bag Fees

WOW Air bag fees are the deal killer at $50 one way for a carry-on bag 10kg/26 pounds of normal roll- aboard size. You can still only have one carry-on bag.

Per guest, per flight leg 1 piece per guest. Size: 22 x 18 x 10 in (26 lbs) incl. wheels and handles. (You are only permitted one piece of carry-on baggage).

One checked bag is $70 one way, up to 20kg/44lb.

WOW Seat Selection

The self-select seat price isn’t bad ($11-$12), if you want assurances you are not in a middle seat in the 2-4-2 configured A330 aircraft. But you have to pay per flight segment, so about $50 if you fly to SFO-Iceland-Europe round trip. Norwegian charges $45 one way for a self-select seat on Oakland to Oslo/Stockholm flights.

My random unpaid seat assignment was 32 F. That is a middle seat in the 4-seat middle section and the last row in that section of the A330 aircraft. One issue is the toilets are directly behind that row. There is enough space behind the seat for people to squeeze through to cross the aisle.

Boarding Completed

Turned out nobody was assigned the seats on either side of me, so my 32F seat would have been a good seat for space.

Even better, as soon as I heard my favorite flight attendant words spoken over the announcements,

“Boarding Completedâ€,

I hopped out of my seat to grab 33 H-K, sitting empty. 33K has the advantage of being set next to the aircraft wall where there is no window and provides space to lean up against for sleep. Another advantage is nobody crossing the aircraft aisle behind the middle row of seats. The disadvantage was closer proximity to toilet.

WOW Air my seats

Within a couple minutes of vacating my original seat, a young woman came from the back of the plane and took advantage of the 3 empty seats for a nearly lie flat flight to Iceland.

WOW recliner class

YMMV – Your (WOW flight) Miles May Vary.

This was my fourth transatlantic flight on WOW and Norwegian in 2017. I have not paid for pre-assigned seats or bag fees on any of the flights and I have had an empty seat beside me on every flight as I recall, if not an empty section to myself. These budget flights out of the San Francisco Bay Area to Scandinavia have allowed me to travel for $190 round trip in January and this trip is $229 round trip for the transatlantic flights.

No Inflight Entertainment

The 10:20pm flight departure time is a great change in my opinion since WOW Air has no inflight entertainment system. I was tired after a long day and as soon as the seatbelt sign went off, I used the toilet, then put on my eyeshade and earplugs, stretched out and went to sleep for several hours of the 7.5 hour flight.

No free meal service or option to watch movies meant no distractions. I tend to binge watch Norwegian language subtitled films for most of the 11 hour flights home from Stockholm to Oakland.

WOW Air allows passengers to bring a book that does not count against your carry-on allowance.

Bottom line is WOW Air is truly a cheap way to get from the USA to Europe, if you can travel light and compact.

In January, I was able to bring two small carry-on bags and the second smaller bag had my winter boots. But in the three weeks I have been to Copenhagen, Malmo, Prague, Wroclaw, Krakow, Stockholm, London, Amsterdam, Sofia and Gdansk this past winter, I only wore my boots on two days. I think Europe has experienced the global warming effect this winter.

WOW changed their free carry-on bag policy at the end of January 2017 to allow only one free carry-on bag.

I sure would have preferred walking five hours yesterday in  waterproof shoes in Iceland when the sun came out and melted a lot of the street snow creating large puddles of standing water to cross around on Reykjavik streets.

Hilton Reykjavik view

After a day in Reykjavik, I reconfirmed what I already knew from my travels in Scandinavia over the past few years.

Iceland for a budget tourist like me is ‘Priceland’. This place seems more expensive than Norway to me. And that is another story in itself to come in my trip report.



  • Ben April 4, 2017

    I flew WOW Air last month, and eBags has a 16″ Netpack weekender duffel (not sure if the filter will block me posting a link) for $23.99 (after cashback and coupons usually around $15-$20) that can get stuffed to the gills and fits the sizer almost perfectly. Additionally, if nothing goes into the front pockets, it should fit the United Basic Economy sizer almost perfectly as well.

  • Mark April 4, 2017

    What was the beverage service like? Normal selections and free?

  • Rohit April 4, 2017

    I booked my tickets to KEF from SFO in Dec 2016 for a May 2017 departure. It looks like the new baggage rules went into effect after I booked my tickets.
    Are you sure I can still bring 2 free carry on items? Like a small carry on and a small personal item?

  • Rupert April 4, 2017

    I prefer a backpack to travel, keeping my hands free.
    CabinZero has a 28L backpack that fits the size requirements, is easy to pack (clamshell style) and very light, yet sturdy enough. It even has a thin laptop sleeve and compression straps
    I was able to fit a weeks worth of (summer) clothes, toiletries, my laptop and gadget. I bought it for travel on Wow/WizzAir – the best backpack I could find, if you want to travel with a single, personal-item-size bag!
    I’ve reviewed it with pics:

  • Ric Garrido April 5, 2017

    @Mark – I don’t think anything is free on WOW. Not sure if they serve free water or not. I did not notice that service on this flight. There is a menu to order food from on board.

    @Rohit – 2 free bags was available at time you purchased ticket. That policy ended late January. You should call WOW to check if you can still get two small bags since you purchased ticket with that expectation.

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