My boyfriend Mitchell and I are in a long distance relationship, he lives in the United States, I live in Germany. Since we can’t move in together at the moment we have to fly across the Atlantic ocean in order to see each other, basically every two months. Of course, that isn’t necessarily the cheapest lifestyle which is why I thought I’d give WOW Air a chance. Since I had quite an experience with this airline I decided to tell you about that in this post so that in the end you will be able to decide for yourself whether you’d like to give it a try or not.
What is ”WOW Air”?
WOW Air is an airline based in Iceland that offers extremely cheap flights from and to Iceland and also cheap connecting flights, if you want to travel to Europe or North America. I first found out about this airline in January and I was extremely excited – only 390 Euros from Frankfurt (stopover in Reykjavik) to Pittsburgh. Can’t beat that! Of course you have to pay extra for every tiny little thing: Carry on, checked bag, seats and even water! But oh well, I paid 20 Euros for my carry bag and about 4 Euros for my seat so it was still a lot cheaper than a Lufthansa flight for example. Little did I know that this was gonna be the most frustrating and stressful travel experience of my life…
I was supposed to leave on March 2nd at 11:30 am and arrive in Pittsburgh at 5:00 pm. I was a little nervous at first since I had only 55 minutes in between my two flights. But since I had read lots of reviews before I booked this trip, saying that the Reykjavik airport is basically made for short stopovers and that no one ever had any issues with that short amount of time, I told myself ”don’t worry, it’s gonna be okay”. Well… that was pretty naive.
I arrived at the airport around 9:30 and luckily there were about 3 people at the check in so I didn’t have to wait at all! But that’s when I already got annoyed: I put my passport, my ESTA visa (which you need as a EU-citizen in order to enter the US) and my booking confirmation on the counter as always. The lady at the counter did not even look at my confirmation, nor did she scan my passport like they usually do and she just said: ”You can’t fly to the US if you didn’t book a return trip yet.” I asked her what she meant by that and that I DID already book a return trip and referred to my booking confirmation which was literally right in front of her eyes. Unfortunately, she wasn’t the brightest crayon in the box which is why it took her about 10 minutes to understand that I had already booked my flight back to Germany. Not once did she look at any of my documents or scanned them for me. I guess you can tell that I was a littttle (cough cough) annoyed by that but I told myself ”oh well, just forget about it and move on.”
Boarding in Frankfurt #1
I went through security within 10 minutes, I didn’t have to wait very long at all so I was in good spirits. I had a lot of time left so I sat down at the gate, talked to someone and then boarding already started. Everything was on time, the two ladies at the gate kinda seemed like the one at the check in counter, but no big deal. Then suddenly there was an announcement ”We have to change one of the plane’s tires so there will be a 15 minute delay.” I wasn’t extremely happy about that because that would mean I’d only have 35 minutes in Reykjavik, but it was still okay. Well…it was 15 minutes, then 20, then 40. In the end we waited for a whole entire HOUR until we got updates. At that time, I would have already missed my connecting flight so I was starting to get angry and stressed out. Then 15 minutes later the trip was completely canceled. Everybody rushed to the desks at the gate, asked lots and lots of questions, of course everybody was angry. The WOW employees did not give us ANY information on why exactly the flight got canceled, if there would be another flight later that day, what we are supposed to do now. NOTHING. All they told us was to call a call center and that they would take us to a hotel soon. Also, they BARELY spoke English (told ya, they weren’t competent), some of the American passengers literally had to beg them to give them information in English which is completely unacceptable considering that this was an international flight.
The hotel and the call center
Are you ready for this? It took them SIX HOURS, I repeat, SIX HOURS, to take us to a hotel. Yep, you read that right. The hotel wasn’t even right next to the airport, but about 20 minutes away with NO other bus connections other than the shuttle bus to the airport. We never got any vouchers, the people at the hotel were clueless (apparently WOW didn’t really give them any information either) and also didn’t really know what to do. After we finally check in I tried to call that call center. I was on hold for TWO AND A HALF HOURS. Do you know how much that cost me? Well, let me tell you, it was a lot. And then I didn’t even speak to a German representative (even though it was a German number), but some random dude from INDIA. I was told that the next flight to Pittsburgh would be on March 4th, 2 days later. At that point, I was about to cry. I only had 12 days with my boyfriend and we were only able to spend time on the weekends because he works full-time. So we lost a WHOLE ENTIRE WEEKEND. But that was not it. I was also told that there’s no guarantee that WOW will pay for my second night at the hotel. They only booked ten more rooms for the second night even though there were at least 50 people who needed to stay a second night. Thank god, I was one of the 10 people who managed to get a room right away. Absolutely unbelievable.
Boarding in Frankfurt #2
Two long days later, I got to the airport again, checked in, went through security, waited at my gate. I really did not have a good feeling in my guts, I was convinced it wouldn’t work out in which case I would have canceled my whole trip and asked for a refund because I ain’t doing that sh** again for sure. Of course, they managed to mess it up again. Boarding started about 40 minutes after it was supposed to start, we ended up having a one hour delay again. Keep in mind, I still only had 55 minutes to get from one gate, through customs, to my other gate. My only chance was basically my other plane being delayed as well. I sat on the plane and tried my best not to cry because I already pictured myself being stuck in Iceland for another two days. When we arrived in Reykjavik I ran (with a heavy backpack on my back and a heavy carry on) as fast as I could and got to my gate as they were about to close it. They said if I had come 2 minutes later I would have missed my flight. So you can imagine how freaking stressed out I was. But there I was: Sweaty, stressed and exhausted, but at least I was on my way to Pittsburgh now.
Boarding in Pittsburgh
When I was in Pittsburgh I looked at many different flights constantly because I just did not trust WOW at all and I really had to be home on time as I really did not want to miss my sister’s birthday. In the end, the other options were too expensive so I had to stick with WOW. I arrived at the airport, the line was HUGE and of course, there was a system failure (was I even surprised at this point? Not really). It took ages for them to check us in and when I was finally at the counter they pulled us out of the line saying we should go downstairs and check in at a kiosk (like, couldn’t they have done that a little earlier? Not after we had already waited in line for 45 minutes). But the lady who was supposed to take us to that kiosk didn’t even know where it was (I didn’t know whether I should laugh or cry). Here’s my advice: If you’re only traveling with a carry on, don’t even bother going up to the check in desks and just download the WOW app and get your boarding pass on there. Well, in the end I got my boarding pass, went through security, to my gate, boarding ended up being 20 minutes late. Like I said, I’m not even surprised anymore. I would have been more surprised if it had worked out perfectly.
My personal ”highlight”
Alright guys… you better sit down for this one because this will blow your mind (in a bad way). I got on the plane, walked up to my seat and wanted to put my carry on in the overhead compartment as always. Unfortunately, my carry on was extremely heavy and I’m a very small girl, which is why I was not able to lift up my bag. There were 3 flight attendants who were basically just standing there, smiling, saying ”welcome” to everybody. I walked up to one of them and kindly asked her ”Excuse me, would you mind helping me with my carry on?”. She straight up looked me in the eyes with the most evil look and said ”No. You have to lift it up yourself. This is your bag, not mine”. Then she turned around and walked away without even looking at me. Yep. No I’m not kidding. No I’m not talking about a comedy show (even though for a second I thought I was in one of those). This actually happened and these are her exact words. I was so shocked and speechless, I had no idea what to say. This was the rudest, most ridiculous thing I have ever experienced in my whole entire life. Lady, if you’re reading this: You’re a flight attendant. It is your JOB and DUTY to help passengers with everything they need. You’re supposed to make the passengers feel comfortable, to serve food, to pick up their trash. Sure, it’s not YOUR trash or YOUR bags, but you’re getting paid for this. Understood??
If you’re looking for a super cheap flight, you’re just traveling with a backpack or a carry on, you’re okay with delays (and trust me, there WILL be a delay) and employees not being very competent or helpful – go for it! It’s a great deal! I’m not trying to convince anyone not to travel with WOW, my opinion is just based on my personal experience. Personally, I’d rather spend 600 Euros on a Lufthansa flight with great service that I can TRUST, the money just isn’t worth the stress and frustration. After all this happened I reached out to WOW on twitter and via email and I felt like I only got automatic replies. They did apologize but they did not offer any reimbursements or anything to make up for it, nor did they tell me that they’re going to do anything about that flight attendant. I found out that according to the EU law I am eligible for a 600 Euro compensation because my flight was canceled and it took them 2 days to take me where I needed to be. So I am going to try to get that compensation but I gotta say my expectations are not very high. I read a lot of reviews on WOW air and some people have been waiting for two months and still haven’t received a cent.
My final conclusion – WOW Air: Trust me, you will get that ”wow” experience…but not necessarily the one you’re looking for. Never. ever. ever. again.