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WOW Air - Iceland

racemey

Well-Known Member
#1
Curious if anyone has had any experience with this budget airline out of Iceland. Thinking of taking the family there this summer and they have a convenient nonstop from SFO. Aside from the reliability concerns with having a small fleet, any safety concerns? Thanks!
 

Cazadores

Well-Known Member
#7
Believe me, that is always my preference. My wife hates flying and the only reason I was looking at this option was to have her in the air as little as possible. A New York stopover may be a fun option as well.
If your wife hates flying I would suggest finding an airline that doesn't pack 340 some odd seats into an A330 that are a full inch narrower than the seats found on the equivalent US legacy service class and jet.

I also find breaking up a trip, for those who don't prefer flying, makes it more enjoyable. Many airports have easy access to public transport, stop in Minneapolis, Boston or Chicago, take the short light rail ride into town, have a nice night out and take the next flight to Reykjavik in the morning. Seems to work well for those I travel with who don't like to fly.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 
#8
Why don't you support one of the airlines in this country?
Because WOW is cheaper. That's usually almost always the answer. That's the problem with nearly all Americans. We want to "buy American" but the reality is when something else is cheaper, most people will take that other cheaper option.

I like the whole ALPA thing against Norwegian system's shady operation setup to offer low fares, but after searching many fares online to Europe, I have consistently found WOW Air to be cheaper than Norwegian. But I guess WOW is a legitimate operation based and operated by Icelandic rules so it's fair game.
 

AAPalmTree

Well-Known Member
#9
Because WOW is cheaper. That's usually almost always the answer. That's the problem with nearly all Americans. We want to "buy American" but the reality is when something else is cheaper, most people will take that other cheaper option.

I like the whole ALPA thing against Norwegian system's shady operation setup to offer low fares, but after searching many fares online to Europe, I have consistently found WOW Air to be cheaper than Norwegian. But I guess WOW is a legitimate operation based and operated by Icelandic rules so it's fair game.
Sounds like someone drives a Hyundai.
 

racemey

Well-Known Member
#10
Because WOW is cheaper. That's usually almost always the answer. That's the problem with nearly all Americans. We want to "buy American" but the reality is when something else is cheaper, most people will take that other cheaper option.

I like the whole ALPA thing against Norwegian system's shady operation setup to offer low fares, but after searching many fares online to Europe, I have consistently found WOW Air to be cheaper than Norwegian. But I guess WOW is a legitimate operation based and operated by Icelandic rules so it's fair game.
Cost is not the factor here - I much prefer to support us carriers and will gladly pay extra for that peace of mind and to support our business, but saw the nonstop which would be more convenient from sfo so I thought I'd ask. I appreciate the replies. The stopover option on a us legacy or Iceland Air sound like a better option. All the extras wow charges for end up making the ticket cost close to the same anyway.
 

racemey

Well-Known Member
#11
I flew to Japan last month and could have paid way less on an Asian carrier but chose to pay the extra $$$ for United. Worth it even though they stranded me in sfo and had to take the train back to smf. Loved the trip home on the 787
 
#12
When things go well, they go well, and the flights are ontime or early.

When things go poorly, you end up misconnecting in Iceland on the way home, and all the flights are full the next few days because the $400 roundtrip tickets from SFO-KEF-AMS-KEF-SFO and the like keep the seats full. So you're either rebooked for whatever random day down the line you can be squeezed onto a flight along with all your fellow pax, or you're refunded what is left in the final segment of this 4-leg $400 roundtrip ticket and left to fend for yourself. But if the local hotels sell out, you may end up in some cool WWII baracks for the night.

And that is where the key difference is between a ULCC like Norweigan and WOW and a legacy airline like Delta or United. If you get screwed on a regular airline, they have interline agreements with other carriers and a lot of resources at their disposal to get you to your destination. If you get screwed on a ULCC longhaul flight, they usually operate with very high load factors, with much tighter aircraft utilization, and only serve most routes a few days per week. But that is the gamble one takes when choosing these operations over a traditional carrier. If you travel non-stop, things are much less likely to go catastrophically wrong, but connect at your own risk.

As for WOW themselves, I have to be honest, they have improved tremendously. I could write a book about the launch of their A330 long haul flights, and people would want to read it. But in the last several months, they've vastly improved.

Still, check out these Yelp reviews if you want a laugh:
https://www.yelp.com/biz/wow-air-san-francisco?osq=Wow+Air

Sit around children, let me tell you a horror story in possibly the longest yelp review I will ever write.

I flew Wow Air from Berlin to Reykjavik. Fairly short flight, run of the mill *I don't have the education to emote without using a curse word* budget airline, whatever.

A few months later, I was booking a flight from Berlin to SF. All the itineraries were terrible; 22+ hours mostly. That's what really gets me - I didn't even choose WOW Air for the price factor, but simply because it is somehow the only airline that offers any kind of reasonable route between Berlin and SFO OR OAK (where you at, Airberlin?!). I booked every upgrade I possibly could, from luggage to extra-large seats.

The flight from Berlin to Reykjavik was fine. The flight from Reykjavik to SFO was absolutely 100% not fine.

1. We didn't board the plane until ~3 hours after scheduled take-off. Fine, things happen. What was annoying was that they continually moved the boarding time back by teeny tiny increments, sometimes as small as 5 minutes. This meant everyone was corralled at the gate that entire time, half of the people actually waiting in line. Very little seating, not even really any room to sit on the floor.

2. Finally on the plane, my "extra large" seat turned out to be a random *I don't have the education to emote without using a curse word* middle aisle seat in the back of the plane. I told the flight attendant and she said she would "see what she could do" in a tone that told me this wasn't the first time this had happened. After putting up a lot of fuss she finally moved me to a bulkhead seat (and yes, I asked the passenger next to me if they paid - nope).

3. 2 hours later, still on the ground. Again, repeated announcements that "we've almost fixed the issue" were followed by "This is your captain, I'll update you in 10 minutes" and then no update for an hour. The captain, by the way, was a weirdo. He almost seemed like a hired actor. He walked around apologizing to people and smiling at babies, giving somewhat emotional, nonsensical explanations for why we weren't taking off. The flight attendants locked all the bathrooms and would only let people in by request. This didn't stop someone from smoking in the bathroom and getting kicked off.

4. The flight was cancelled. On our way off the plane, the pilot stood at the door apologizing. As I left with a group of young women he said "I'll definitely be getting on Tindr when I get home, all these nice young women in Reykjavik tonight." I'm not making this up. Disgusting.

5. We were promised "hotel rooms." The process for receiving these was absolute mass chaos. Another 2 hours were spent waiting in a huge disorganized mob, an overwhelmed independent contractor gave us the name of a hostel. This did not make me happy, as I was in the process of making an international move and had two huge suitcases full of valuables with me. Thankfully, the group I was assigned to struck gold - we were placed in a totally empty hostel and I had the room to myself. However, this was clearly a fluke. When we showed up, the hostel owner had no idea where we came from and asked "who is paying for this?!" Luckily the hostel owners were very kind (shoutout to Start Hostel!) and let us stay.

6. A shuttle picked us up from the hostel in the morning. We were told nothing about the timing of this until the morning, of course. Checked back into the flight, and made sure to ask if I was in a premium seat - again, I was not, but the woman at check-in had no problem upgrading me. MAKE SURE TO ASK AT CHECK-IN WHETHER YOU HAVE THE CORRECT SEAT - I have seen that many people have this issue, and this seems like the easiest place to deal with it.

7. The flight back was horrific. Most of the plane had not been appropriately accommodated in a hostel and had slept in hotel bars or extremely crowded hostel rooms. Consequently, many had simply stayed up all night drinking, and the drinking continued on the plane. Multiple parties starting coopting the bulkhead and flight attendant seats and gathering in the aisles, drinking alcohol they had brought on the plane. A flight attendant made a half-hearted effort to get them to return to their seats with no luck. It was a loud, unpleasant flight to say the least.

The only thing that saved this flight: airhelp.com. My ticket was 554 Euro, they were able to refund me 450. Please, please use it. You can even get compensation for delays. I want revenge.
 
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#14
Because WOW is cheaper. That's usually almost always the answer. That's the problem with nearly all Americans. We want to "buy American" but the reality is when something else is cheaper, most people will take that other cheaper option.
.
That, and modern legacy transatlantic economy isn't much better. 10 abreast in an AA 777? GTFO.
 

racemey

Well-Known Member
#17
When things go well, they go well, and the flights are ontime or early.

When things go poorly, you end up misconnecting in Iceland on the way home, and all the flights are full the next few days because the $400 roundtrip tickets from SFO-KEF-AMS-KEF-SFO and the like keep the seats full. So you're either rebooked for whatever random day down the line you can be squeezed onto a flight along with all your fellow pax, or you're refunded what is left in the final segment of this 4-leg $400 roundtrip ticket and left to fend for yourself. But if the local hotels sell out, you may end up in some cool WWII baracks for the night.

And that is where the key difference is between a ULCC like Norweigan and WOW and a legacy airline like Delta or United. If you get screwed on a regular airline, they have interline agreements with other carriers and a lot of resources at their disposal to get you to your destination. If you get screwed on a ULCC longhaul flight, they usually operate at a very high load factors, with much tighter aircraft utilization, and only serve most routes a few days per week. But that is the gamble one takes when choosing these operations over a traditional carrier. If you travel non-stop, things are much less likely to go catastrophically wrong, but connect at your own risk.

As for WOW themselves, I have to be honest, they have improved tremendously. I could write a book about the launch of their A330 long haul flights, and people would want to read it. But in the last several months, they've vastly improved.

Still, check out these Yelp reviews if you want a laugh:
https://www.yelp.com/biz/wow-air-san-francisco?osq=Wow+Air
Thanks @ChasenSFO - great info!
 

Constellation

Well-Known Member
#19
I flew on WOW from Boston to Reykjavik in January with some friends for a vacation (they were definitely looking for the cheapest option). The round trip ticket was just over $300 with baggage fees included.

The A330 was mostly empty, the FA's looked like super models, and the flight was on time both ways. Both pilots were older gentleman that spoke Icelandic. Just my observations - couldn't find anything to really complain about.

Granted, Iceland is considerably quieter in the winter months so I'd anticipate a packed aircraft in the summer months.