Downside of Cheap Airlines
I recently wrote a post about WOW Airline’s sub $400 flights to Europe. Well, I recently had the opportunity to fly on Wow from Boston to Reykjavik and I wanted to relay the downside of cheap airlines. There is no question that Wow flights can get you to Europe for some of the lowest prices around, an early May flight to Amsterdam from Washington BWI is $478. But the question to ask is how low should you go?
There are absolutely no extras on a Wow flight, not that I expected there to be any. That means there is no entertainment or movie screens in your seats or anywhere else. There is no free cabin food or even complimentary water but I am sure they would make exceptions for sweet old ladies. Flying on Wow is simply a ride from point A to B.
Once aspect I found particularly annoying are the baggage fees. You are allowed 1 carryon that weighs less than 11 pounds. 11 pounds is nothing for luggage weight considering many bags themselves are 2-3 pounds. If you go over this weight, you need to buy weight allowance (up to 26 pounds) for another $50 (per ticket). You do this at the counter or you can buy it online before you hit the airport for a slightly better rate.
Now, this is only for 1 bag, if you bring a second bag, you will need to check it. That cost is another $40 (paid online) or $55 (paid at check-in). So you can see the fees start to pile up and your super cheap flight.TipIf you are a heavy packer and can’t make due on your holiday with less than a bag that could fit a dead body, the up charges in baggage fees pretty much cancel out your savings.
The planes are new Airbus A320’s and each seat has a plug for your laptop or other electronic device. Legroom was about what you would expect in coach on any airline, great for the sub 6 footers, not so great for tall folks. I also found the terminal that the flight departed from was rather strange in Boston. It was at the far end of the international departures in it’s own sequestered wing which had its own security checkin (which took less than 30 seconds) but didn’t have the flare and grandeur of other international departures, no great stores or restaurants to wait until your flight departs.
Another thing to mention, Wow flies out of only 2 east coast cities, Boston and Washington BWI. So you need to make arrangements to fly into these cities from your home airport, which means you will have 2 separately booked flights, which means you need to recheck-in for your Wow flight when you arrive in either Boston or Washington. If given enough time, this is no problem, but if not, this becomes a very sticky, see next heading ‘Punctuality’ for more info.
As stated above, if you do not live in Boston or Washington, you need to book 2 separate tickets. I generally allow for 3 hours in-between landing and departing so you have ample time to exit through security, go to another part of the airport and recheck-in for your 2nd flight. Usually this works like a charm unless one of your flights is delayed as was the case on my return flight from Reykjavik to Boston. This is one of the most annoying things imaginable when flying. Since you have 2 separate tickets, if you miss your connecting flight, your connecting flight airline bears no responsibility to you. This means, you are on the hook for buying another ticket or trying to use your sweet talking skills to get on another flight that day. Another downside to delayed flight arrivals is that you might end up having to stay the night in addition to buying another flight home if Wow is too late. That cheap flight just got a lot more expensive. When this happened to me, I made my connecting flight with 10 minutes to spare mainly due to my travel partner sweet talking the ladies at the security line to let us jump ahead of 30 people.
Wow Flying Tips
- Bring tablet or laptop with movies
- Allow 4+ hours in-between flights to account for delays and late arrivals
- Bring food and drinks for the flight
- Buy your luggage allowance/upgrade when you buy your ticket online; 11 pounds in carryon is an amazing feat
- Pay attention to what you buy as you may have to buy more allowance on the return flight
- Do the math. With the extra costs for everything is Wow a cheaper, less heartburn prone airline choice?
- No frequent flyer program. The fact that you can not earn any miles with any program on Wow is a major sticking point with me.
The Big Fat World is doing trips to Iceland, hence the article explaining how to get there. We do small group (less than 8 ppl) trips in a fun, down to earth format which leaves lots of room for spontaneous exploration. Check out our upcoming trip dates.