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

Icelandair to SFO advantages over WOW and good deal for consumers

a screenshot of a flight ticket

Icelandair is starting service to San Francisco SFO, Baltimore BWI and Kansas City MCO in May/June 2018.

Icelandair operates 35 routes to Europe from Iceland.

Several other airlines, including low cost carriers like Wizz, easyjet, Eurowings, Norwegian and Wow also offer direct flights between Keflavik, Iceland and destinations across Europe.

Baltimore BWI – Keflavik, Iceland KEF

  • Mon, Tue, Fri, Sun beginning May 28.

Kansas City MCI – Keflavik, Iceland KEF

  • Tue, Thu, Sun beginning May 25.

San Francisco SFO – Keflavik, Iceland KEF

  • Mon, Wed, Thu, Sat beginning June 1.

I have never flown Icelandair. The reason I am excited to see Icelandair come to San Francisco is due to the past two years watching some of the best airline fare war deals to Europe happen when Icelandair put European cities on sale and all the major alliance airlines matched low fares.

Sub-$400 tickets from California to Europe have been around the past few months. Those are a relatively recent trend pushed by low Star Alliance fares with Air Canada, Lufthansa and Swiss.

Many of the airfare deals seen in the past year when ticket prices dropped to $300s and $400s to Europe from Denver, New York, Boston, Chicago and Washington Dulles IAD were fare wars launched in response to Icelandair sales to Europe.

The launch of these new Icelandair routes at the beginning of summer travel season means big discount ticket prices will probably not be seen until late summer for fall season sales for travel from September or October 2018. Based on trends seen over the past two years, I expect SFO to have some Icelandair spawned fare wars in 2018 with great deals from legacy alliance airlines.

Norwegian $200 one way Denver and Seattle to London LGW, Icelandair $471 round trip

Icelandair $484 Seattle to London, $551 Frankfurt Oct-Dec 2017

New York JFK/EWR to Geneva/Zurich $321-$339 Icelandair with Iceland stopover Mar-June

Seattle to London or Paris, plus Copenhagen and Reykjavik Icelandair $450 open-jaw stopover ticket

Icelandair/AA/DL/UA $387-$457 Seattle to Brussels, Copenhagen, Stockholm and more

Washington IAD/DCA to London $404-$558 American, Icelandair, Virgin Atlantic

Icelandair vs. WOW Air ticket prices

Icelandair One Way Tickets

Icelandair offers discount one way tickets. They do not price like Norwegian Airlines with true one way flight prices. They operate more like WOW Airlines, which discontinued its true one-way ticket prices in 2017 by offering lowest ticket prices only when purchasing a round trip ticket.

Icelandair and WOW Air are now in direct competition for SFO-KEF-SFO. Google Flights shows some days Icelandair has the lower one-way ticket price.

Two advantages of Icelandair one way tickets:

1. Get to Europe or to USA flying Icelandair one way to/from Iceland and many cities in Europe.

2. Iceland as a destination using Icelandair and another airline to/from Keflavik.

Icelandair and WOW Air both offer free stopover options in Iceland on round trip tickets, but no stopover allowed on one-way tickets. In 2017 I flew to Iceland on WOW and then flew Wizz Air from Keflavik to Vilnius at a total ticket price substantially less than flying to Vilnius.


Icelandair San Francisco SFO – Keflavik KEF one-way

$267.40 USD Economy Light Wed June 20 

$311.40 USD for Economy Standard ticket fare including one checked bag.

SFO-KEF $267 Jun20 FI

Icelandair charges $44 more for a standard economy ticket including one checked bag.

Seat assignments are free on Icelandair Economy Light and Economy Standard tickets.


WOW Air San Francisco SFO – Reykjavik KEF

$270 USD Sat June 23 base fare with free small carry-on and no pre-assigned seat.

Icelandair $267 with normal size carry-on bag and seat.

$329 with carry-on and pre-assigned seat

Icelandair $267 with normal size carry-on bag and seat.

SFO-KEF $329 WOW June 23 carrybag-seat

$349 to add one checked bag and cheapest pre-assigned seat

Icelandair $311 for checked bag, normal carry-on bag, personal bag and seat.

SFO-KEF $349 WOW checked bag-seat

Icelandair vs. WOW bag fees

Both Icelandair and WOW introduced more restrictive bag policies in 2017.

Icelandair established a new Economy Light fare allowing only one carry-on bag of 10kg/22lb. The old fare structure allowed one free checked bag. Economy Standard is about $48 more in the above fare example.

Icelandair advantages over WOW

  • No charge for seat assignments. WOW Air pre-assigned seats are extra fee ($12 to $50).
  • checked bag fee less than WOW Air bag fee ($48 vs. $68)
  • Icelandair allows regular size carry-on bag at no charge and one small personal bag.
  • WOW Air charges $49 for normal size carry-on bag.

Icelandair Carry-On Bag Policy 

Icelandair Economy bag allowance

WOW Bag Fees

WOW bag fees

WOW free carry-on can have maximum dimensions 42x32x25cm (99cm = 17″ x 13″ x 10″), which is a small bag/backpack vs. Icelandair normal carry-on bag size (115cm total dimensions 56cm x 35cm x 22cm = 22in x 14in x 9 in).

WOW regular carry on bag fee (22in x 18in x 10in) up to 26 lb. is $50 one way SFO-KEF and $70 for a one checked bag up to 44lb.

Loyalty Traveler – Icelandair Economy Light fares concede low fare competitive edge to majors