$99* to Europe Including Taxes?

wowair A new low-cost airline from Iceland called WOW air has just started advertising fares as low as $99 one way to Europe, including all taxes. (Earlier last week, one could book a trip from Boston to Copenhagen for $99. Now, all fares are higher.)

What’s the catch? This airline has a similar philosophy to Spirit Airlines, the despised US carrier that charges extra for everything.

So before you get your hopes up that you can really fly to Europe for just $99, you have to read the fine print about additional charges.


wow air chart

Here is the full, long list of possible extra charges. Most notable: Your included carry-on bag can weigh no more than 11 pounds. It will cost you $57 for a larger carry-on bag, and $86 for a checked bag, EACH WAY, when going to Europe with a connection in Iceland if paying at the airport. And if you try to sneak in a carry-on bag over 11 pounds without paying, it will cost you up to $105 extra at the gate.

There are also charges for reserving seats: $14 for the front of the plane per leg, $10 for the middle, and $3 for the rear. These prices can double if making “advance” seat reservations at the airport on your way to Europe.

Don’t expect to be able to get seats at the advertised prices until late in 2015 in some cases. And the flight back to the US is not as cheap as going outbound.

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10 thoughts on “$99* to Europe Including Taxes?”

  1. I don’t completely dislike separating some charges from others, but the company should optimize inconvenience with customer satisfaction. At the minimum a plane ticket should include a seat and carry on and overhead luggage of limited dimensions.

    Are employees really going to weight each bag as passengers board a flight? That would hold up the boarding process to irritable levels. “Your bag is over 11 pounds. Please step aside and provide $57 more dollars” is not something people want to be bothered with while boarding a flight. Perhaps all of that can be handled before the flight, but good luck with that.

    Reserving seats is also something that should come with the cost of a ticket. People should be rewarded for purchasing a ticket early. Otherwise, it doesn’t feel like a benefit if you have the privilege to “pay” for a specific seat first.

  2. That’s quite a list of “optional” conveniences. I assume that the “wheels up surcharge” was omitted in error. Theater of the absurd: 14 oz. Corn Flakes, .98; Inner Plastic Bag, .98, Cardboard Carton, .57, graphics/printing, 1.29.

  3. On the flip side, I found this on WOW’s website: “We are committed to offering our passengers the lowest available fares for their specific flights. When our customers contact us to inquire about a fare or make a reservation through our website or by calling our call center, we will disclose that the lowest fare offered by WOW air may be available elsewhere if that is the case.”

    Also, I think if you pick out all the “optional” fees you think you’d actually use and add the costs to the fare, it’s probably still significantly cheaper than most flights.

  4. To all who expect to fly for $99: how do you expect the airlines to make money when they charge such low prices for plane tickets? The fees, of course! Don’t be surprises or outraged at these “hidden” costs. It’s what the consumer market wanted, so that’s what this airline is delivering. I, for one, don’t expect much more than a seat on a plane when I fly, so I’m not concerned by this “mouse print” at all. I’d rather pay less when for my seat when I use fewer services. I personally hope they do stop people at the gate from boarding if their bags are too big to fit. Every flight that I’ve ever taken has been held up by ignorant idiots who think that they can squeeze 50+ pound bags into the overhead bins, and then act all indignant when they’re told that they have to check their bags. If these fees put a stop to this madness (at least, when flying with this airline), great.

  5. I don’t necessarily mind the concept of having separate fees for all these things, but it’s not standardized enough to allow easy comparison and sometimes the fees are not disclosed until late in the purchase process. I want to be able to do a search at a site like Expedia and get an apples to apples comparison.

  6. I don’t know if the airlines realize that nickel and diming people to death is actually going to prohibit many customers, not encourage them to fly. I love all the rationalizations people give for not minding this, but flying didn’t used to be this ridiculous and full of catches, and I wonder just how much better it has made things for the airlines. Note that I used to fly all the time but I have completely avoided it since 2006. Why do something when it causes so much anxiety just thinking about how difficult it is? And it’s not even fear of flying. There’s nothing that a lot of people hate more than “surprise” fees. I don’t have time to navigate them and I doubt that even if I did my best to understand them that I would come away without any surprises. I can’t afford to have my fare be a question mark until the day I travel.

  7. @Ronnie B.: I don’t know whether the nickel-and-diming price scheme will prohibit many customers from flying. I suspect that many people will be like the earlier customers, lured in by the extremely low prices, and then “outraged” by the many service fees. sure, buying a plane ticket used to be simpler, but you paid higher base prices for the fare class (economy/business/first) with all of those service fees included. Basically, you’ve always paid those service fess, except now they’re separate charges rather than padded to the base ticket prices. Only time will tell if the marketplace will reward or punish WOW Air’s business model. Check back in a year’s time, at least, to see if you’re right.

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