WOW Air has been a pioneer in the transatlantic market in recent years, even being named as the CAPA Low-Cost Airline of The Year 2018 – praised for its innovation and ability to bring inexpensive, long haul flights to the mass market. The airline has grown rapidly and today faces many challenges, but I found that the innovative spirit and modern take on flying at WOW Air are as strong as ever.
Flight Profile: WOW Air 118 – Reykjavik (KEF) to Baltimore/Washington (BWI)
Aircraft: Airbus A321 (SL), TF-NOW
Seat: 2A, in WOW Air’s Big Seat cabin
Having previously arrived from Dublin, I got the chance to sample the connections experience that had made Reykjavik so famous for stopovers. Both Icelandair and WOW Air have taken advantage of the airport’s strategic location to offer transatlantic flights and this showed. Reykjavik Keflavik was orientated almost entirely around the connecting passenger – the process was so simple. WOW Air checks your hold luggage onto your connecting flight and there is no requirement to pass through border controls or security. The departure hall was sleek and easy to navigate, with all gates being within a five-minute walk of each other. I could not recommend connecting in Reykjavik, as opposed to a US airport, enough.
Once onboard the aircraft, the modernity of the cabin was evident. Although TF-NOW is not one of WOW Air’s A321neo aircraft, it is only 1.6 years old and reflects the youthfulness of the airline’s fleet. In fact, the average fleet age over the entire airline is just 2.9 years.
The cabin featured mood lighting, and strikingly purple Recaro seats – all of which were fitted with adjustable headrests for passengers’ comfort. The seats offered ample comfort, with suitable recline for the 6-hour flight.
WOW Air’s Airbus A321 aircraft are configured with 8 ‘Big Seats’ at the front of the aircraft and 200 standard Economy class seats. ‘Big Seats’ at the front of the cabin, which I sampled on this flight, are in a 2-2 configuration – similar to a US-style First Class cabin. These seats offered 37″ of seat pitch (more than many legacy airlines offer in Premium Economy), with a footrest and headrest. Each seat also provided charging ports, to keep your devices powered up for entertainment purposes. This is increasingly important as we live more of our lives through technology, so I was glad to see WOW Air offering this.
In rows 3-7, WOW Air offered extra legroom seats. The ‘XL Seats’ in the first few rows also offered a 2-2 configuration, with the middle seat blocked by a tray table. This is a similar product to an intra-European Business Class on airlines such as British Airways and Lufthansa. These seats are fantastic value, as they also offer significantly more legroom at the front of the aircraft.
If you don’t want to pay the full ticket price for WOW Premium, guests can also take advantage of WOW Air’s new initiative – ‘WOW Me Up’. This allows you to bid for XL seats or ‘Big Seats’ at a lower price prior to your flight – yet another example of WOW Air’s trend-setting attitude.
When in the Big Seats, guests receive complimentary drinks and snacks. Prior to the flight, you can also purchase the WOW Biz bundle, which includes drinks, snacks and checked baggage. The cabin crew were proactive in asking me whether I wanted a refill and efficient at completing the meal service. Passengers can choose from Margherita pizza, the WOW club sandwich or a Ham & Cheese Baguette.
On my return flight, the cabin crew allowed me to choose anything from the breakfast selection as my complimentary meal. WOW Air also offers Icelandic ‘Skyr’ yoghurt onboard, which is a nice nod to the airline’s home nation. The crew passed through the cabin with drinks many times throughout the journey, offering refills, which was fantastic, as it kept passengers hydrated throughout.
On the subject of the cabin crew, there is almost nothing to say. The crew on my flights with WOW Air were truly exceptional and had a real passion for their job. Daniel and Iris were especially attentive and provided service worthy of a world-class airline – keen to offer Icelandic chocolate to passengers and to explain the iPad renting scheme WOW Air offers.
The crew also emphasised that guests onboard should push their call button should they need anything at all, which is something you wouldn’t hear on many transatlantic carriers.
The crew were also extremely proud of WOW’s achievements to allow more people to travel across the Atlantic and explained the fare customisation that WOW Air offers. WOW’s pricing structure allows each passenger to pay for only what they want, whilst still achieving cheaper overall costs than conventional legacy airline competitors. If you want a cheap flight to Europe (with fares as low as $49 one-way!) or the US, travel light. If you want a luxurious flight, book a WOW Premium fare. Today, as more and more airlines introduce ‘Basic Economy’, flying with WOW Air is the obvious choice as you get better service, for a lower fare.
One point to bear in mind, however, when flying with WOW Air is there is no in-flight entertainment system. Despite this, WOW AIr rents iPads loaded with 16 games, information about Iceland and 10 movies with a range of genres to guests onboard.
Additionally, I really like the fact that WOW Air embodies Iceland in the air. Although not the country’s official flag carrier, WOW Air acts as an ambassador for its home nation. From Icelandic chocolate, to allowing passengers to ‘take a piece of the blue lagoon’ with them, WOW Air had a wide-range of duty free items available on board that reflected Iceland.
My flight arrived into Baltimore/Washington ahead of schedule and I was sad to leave behind the memorable crew who made the flight so enjoyable.
My experience with WOW Air was almost faultless. The airline’s ‘Big Seats’ are a fantastic cost-effective, yet comfortable way to fly trans-atlantic – without the eye-watering prices of Premium Economy tickets on legacy carriers. Moreover, WOW Air guests receive service that is polished, proactive and worthy of a world-class carrier. Of course, there are elements that could be improved – such as the onboard meal selection, but WOW Air achieves what all passengers want: a low-cost fare, without the low-cost service.
Disclaimer: This flight was provided by WOW Air. All opinions expressed are my own.