WOW Air rolled out one of its signature fare sales on Monday, offering $99 one-way fares to Iceland from eight U.S. cities.
While that fare is an excellent deal, it also comes with a considerable amount of fine print. Perhaps the most significant is that the return fares are much higher; in some cases, the return is double or triple the advertised $99 Iceland-bound fare.
Among the rest of the fine print:
- The $99 one-way fares are being offered from eight U.S. airports. They are Boston, Chicago O’Hare, Cleveland, Dallas/Fort Worth, New York JFK, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and San Francisco. However, despite not being specifically included in WOW’s sale, $99 one-way fares to Iceland also were showing up from some of WOW’s other U.S. cities.
- The $99 one-way sale fares are offered on “select” flights departing the U.S. between Aug. 6 and Oct. 26.
- WOW is offering the lowest fares only on 800 seats during the travel period, so their availability will disappear as they sell out.
- The $99 fares are from WOW’s cheapest fare type, which will require most passengers to pay extra if they wish to check a bag or bring a carry-on that must be stowed in an overhead bin.
A Monday morning search of WOW’s fares from Pittsburgh for mid-September showed that the $99 Iceland-bound fares were available on roughly half of the days WOW flies from the city. In our sample search, a $99 one-way Pittsburgh-to-Reykjavik flight was available for $99 one-way on Sept. 12 – a Wednesday. Coming back would cost more, with options ranging from a $209 return flight on the following Sunday (Sept. 16) to $159 for flights on the following Monday (Sept. 17) or Wednesday (Sept. 19).
In total, that would make a round-trip fare of $259 to $309, though fees would increase that for most travelers.
How much? For our sample search, we took a $259 base for the Sept. 12-17 itinerary. We added one carry-on bag (no checked bags) for $49.99 each way and selected a standard seat ($6.99 each way) to ensure there'd be no chance of a middle seat. That raised the overall price to $367.95. Checked bags or food would add more to the total cost.
Other major airlines were offering competitive fares during the same window. Connecting itineraries from Pittsburgh covering dates similar to sample non-stop WOW booking were available from both Air Canada (via Montreal) and Delta (via New York) for $311 and up, according to a Monday morning search conducted on Kayak.com. United had several connecting options (via Newark) for $357 and up.
Rival airlines were competitive in other markets, too. In New York City, for example, Icelandair ($299) and Delta ($311) also offered competitive prices on non-stop Iceland flights with fares that came close to WOW’s ($240 and up) for travel on various dates between Sept. 11 and Sept. 20.
It was a similar story in Dallas, where WOW’s $260 non-stop fares during the same September period went up against Icelandair's $379 (and up) non-stops and American's $417 (and up) non-stop options.
Some fliers might find that WOW’s fee-heavy business model eats into some of the savings when compared to some of those rival carriers.