THE TRANSATLANTIC MARKET IS CHANGING.
Gone are the days where your only options to fly from the United Kingdom to the United States were dominated by the likes of British Airways and American Airlines. Despite the fantastic service and benefits that these airlines offer throughout your flight, not everyone wants to or can afford to pay the price this comes at. The good news is they no longer have to. Why? The low cost carriers are coming…
2018 is set to be a big year for Transatlantic air travel, new entrants into the UK market Primera Air and WOW Air will look to assert their authority as the ‘go to’ budget carrier. They will face some tough competition though, with Norwegian successfully establishing themselves as the airline of choice for reaching the US East Coast on the cheap. It won’t be easy.
Over the next three weeks, we will review WOW, Norwegian and Primera and look at their chances of changing the way we look at flying across the Atlantic.
UK DepartURES from: EDINBURGH (EDI), dUBLIN (DUB) & LONDON (LGW/STN).
Connecting in: keflavik (kef).
FLYING TO: BOSTON (BOS), CHICAGO (ORD), CINCINNATI (CVG), CLEVELAND (CLe), DALLAS (DFW), DETROIT (DTW), LOS ANGELES (LAx), NEW YORK (JFK/EWR), PITTSBURGH (PIT), ST. LOUIS (STL), WASHINGTON D.C. (BWI), TORONTO (YYZ) & MONTREAL (YUL).
WOW have long been living in the shadow of Icelandair as Iceland’s second choice airline for both flying to Europe and across the pond. However, with the opening of their second London base (London Stansted) in April 2018, WOW will be offering daily flights to their home of Keflavik International Airport where passengers will be able to connect to a number of flights departing to destinations listed above and more!
With WOW Basic fares starting as little as £99 one way, the price alone could be reason enough to book. The WOW Basic fare only permits passengers to carry on one personal item of hand baggage, and will find them seated in WOW Air’s standard economy seating with a seat pitch of between 29″ – 31″ depending on aircraft type. All catering options on board must be payed for.
For anyone wanting optional extras such as checked baggage and seat selection to be included then the WOW Plus fare offers exactly that. All baggage options are included: Personal Item, Carry On Item and Checked baggage. The option to pre-select your seat is also included, however this is only the airlines standard economy seating, any XL or XXL seats carry a further surcharge to purchase. As with WOW Basic, all catering options must be payed for.
The airline does offer their take on business class, marketed as WOW Biz it includes all of the extras marketed in the WOW Plus fare and more. Cancellation Protection is included meaning that if passengers have to cancel their ticket due to unforeseen circumstances, they will be able to reclaim the cost of it through the airline. As apposed to the standard economy seating, Biz passengers will be able to pre-select their very own XXL seat which features a legroom of 35″ + or The Big Seat with a legroom of 37″ + if traveling on Airbus A330 aircraft.
CONNECTING IN KEFLAVIK
Transiting through any airport can be either a joyful experience, or total chaos. Luckily for passengers in transit, Keflavik international Airport was named the BEST airport in Europe (In the under 5 million passengers per year category). This was awarded by the Airports Council International Europe in 2016. It was awarded due to the airports ability to perform exceptionally during their peak times of the year. This isn’t the first time the airport has been commended for it’s performance, it has previously won the award no fewer than 3 times (2009, 2011, 2014) and in 2015 came third in the category. The terminal building is host to a wide range of duty free shops, bars and restaurants so boredom certainly isn’t an option!
WHY FLY WOW?
When flying with WOW an indirect routing from the UK is the only option. This coupled with some undesirable connection times could result in an instant no from passengers. For example, passengers flying from London Stansted to Los Angeles via Keflavik will look forward to an unenviable connection time of 19 hours. However this shouldn’t put you off flying with them as to compensate for this, WOW offer travelers the option to add a lay over in Iceland before their connecting flight to the USA or Canada. They do this by not charging any additional fees for the difference in dates between the flights. Any accommodation costs will have to be paid for by the traveler, but even just one night in Iceland is worth the cost of a cheap city motel.
Skytrax rate the airline 3 stars out of a possible 5. They score highly in the Staff Service category, meaning that the airlines friendly staff will be on hand to assist in any way they possibly can. A down side to this is the lack of In flight Entertainment, only 1 star was awarded for this. Why? Well, WOW doesn’t offer any. Anyone traveling had best bring along their laptop or tablet to keep them entertained throughout the flight. In an effort to compensate for the lack of IFE, they offer charging ports under every seat so that devices never run out of juice just as the movie is reaching the best bit!
The on board meal services are offered with the option to pre-book your meal 48 hours prior to departure, or to pay on-board. The airline does offer a wide range of tasty options with sandwiches to pizza and everything in between included. The options do vary depending on availability and the destination that the airline is flying to. Much like British Airways’ meal services, cash is not accepted on board. Transactions are processed in US Dollars and all major credit and debit cards are accepted.
Ticket prices play a major part in anyone’s decision to commit to booking the journey. A WOW Basic fare from London Stansted to Chicago’s O’Hare will cost £299 return plus any additional fees for extras added onto the booking. An American Airlines flight from London Heathrow to O’Hare direct will cost £440 return when compared to the same dates. With a potential saving of almost £141 and a wait of only 90 minutes in Keflavik, the Windy City could be your first destination with WOW Air.
In summary, I think WOW are offering a good product at some very reasonable prices. Understandably travelers may not rush to purchase tickets due to the lack of IFE and complimentary dining, but as is the case with most budget airlines, you pay for what you get. The low fares will undoubtedly play a major part in anyone’s decision of who to fly WOW, but when compared against a product such as American’s flight to Chicago, the potential saving makes that 90 minute wait worth it. With WOW operating an all Airbus fleet that is one of the youngest aircraft fleets in the world, traveling in 5 star luxury will not be the case but modern style definitely is.
I personally feel that they have the potential to expand their presence within the UK and show that direct isn’t always the best option. Whether they will or not is something that only time will tell.
Visit WOW Air’s website to book your next trip and experience them for yourself, click here. Be sure to check out next weeks article on Primera Air’s chances of cracking into the Transatlantic market.