Can you really fly to California with WOW Air for £278 return?

WOW Air are starting flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco for £139 one way. I’ve taken a look to see if this really is a chance to visit the West Coast on the cheap.

I love travelling. I’ve been lucky enough to go to Cuba, Vietnam, Australia, USA and South America in the last 10 years. The problem is, going to far flung places isn’t cheap, even if you’re a bargain hunter like myself.

To fund my trips I’ve had to save and have years where I don’t go away at all. So I jumped online as soon as I heard about this new route by WOW Air to San Francisco or Los Angeles for £139.

The airline already runs cut-price flights to Boston and Washington DC via its native Iceland, but these prices for seats to California almost sound too good to be true.

Well it seems they may be. Here’s what I found out in my mini-investigation.

Limited cheap seat availability

The flights don’t start until 9th June 2016, but the website says you can book through to November on this lowest price.

I found one flight a week (on a Monday) going to both locations at the £139 price in September, October and November. There were also limited number of seats at that price on those flights, between two and five.

The prices seem to jump up to £175, then £215, then £235, and so on for other days and dates. The highest I saw was £459. Again, the cheaper options only had a maximum of four or five seat available.

Remember this is just one way. I couldn’t see a single flight for £139 back to London. The cheapest was £175, an extra £36, meaning the lowest possible fare I could find today was £314 return.

Extra costs for bags and leg room

Still sounds good yeah? Unfortunately this is a budget airline so be prepared to pay for pretty much everything else.

Want to take more than 5kg of hand luggage? That’ll be £35 each way. A bigger bag in the hold? £45 each way.

You can also pay between £4 and £17 to reserve a seat, the more expensive ones having extra leg room. It looks like not reserving could mean you don’t sit with anyone you are travelling with.

I think most people are looking at adding an extra £98 to their ticket price, meaning you’re looking at £412 at the very least for your return flight.

No frills really means no frills

Wow Air are going to use some brand new massive A330-300 aircrafts and are packing in the passengers.

Standard seats have leg room of 30 inches. That’s about one or two inches smaller than other transatlantic airlines. Probably a little tight for most based on my recent experiences flying BA and Virgin which were already a little snug. You can see how the main airlines compare on this handy seat pitch comparison page.

There’s no food included, though you can pay for some once on board, and also no entertainment, so you’ll need to load up your phone with iPlayer programmes.

It’s not non-stop

It’s also not a direct flight. You go via Iceland, and stop for between 90 and 140 minutes, adding up to a total flight time of more than 12 hours, a good couple of hours more than direct flights.

I couldn’t see any option to get out and spend a few days in Rekyavik. You might be able to sort this by booking separate flights but I’d expect that will not only cost more but also bump up your spend on luggage.

Is it worth it?

Even with the extra baggage costs, this is still a lot cheaper than any of the other airlines. Flights for the same time of year, albeit direct, with Virgin are £650 on – a whopping £238 more expensive.

It’s disappointing that the adverts splash the £139 fee. I can’t imagine many people being able to take advantage of that and not need to pay for extras, and there are limited low price seats available. So I’d expect most people will be paying closer to £500 return which won’t be too different to when the major airlines run a sale.

But if you can get the cheap seats, it’s a great price.

>> Read more of my tricks to get the cheapest flight

Have you flown Wow Air? Is it any good? Let others know your experiences in the comments below.

2 thoughts on “Can you really fly to California with WOW Air for £278 return?

  1. Sounds like more than ‘a shame’ -sounds like Wow is in breach of the trade descriptions act.

    1. Yeah, I guess if it’s technically possible to get the flight for £139 one way they’re covered.


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